England coach, Sven Goran Eriksson, has received a boost in advance of Wednesday’s match against Macedonia with the news that Sol Campbell has been declared fit to play and is likely to replace Jonathan Woodgate.
England looked uncomfortable throughout Saturday’s 2-1 win in Slovakia and Eriksson will be pleased to welcome back the experienced Campbell to the heart of his defence.
A goal down at half-time, Englland responded with a resilient if unconvincing, performance in the second to snatch victory against Slovakia on Saturday.
Eriksson was satisfied with the result. “We did not play as well as we wanted to, so to come back and win was very important and I am happy. We came outin the second half with a good spirit and showed how much we wanted to win the game,” he stated.
“We have got the three points we wanted and we have not picked up any serious injuries for next Wednesday’s game against Macedonia.”
The other dilemma facing Ericksson, is the perennial problem of who to play on the left side of midfield. Paul Scholes under-performed in the role on Saturday, before being moved infield.
Ericksson notes: “I’ve seen Paul Scholes play well on the left side for Manchester United before, but it was important to move him centrally in the second half, we kept the ball much better then, we shall see what we do on Wednesday.”
Meanwhile, UEFA is to investigate the alleged racist abuse aimed at English players in the aftermath of England’s victory on Saturday.
They will assess the crowd disturbances between police and spectators which also marred the game. England’s Ashley Cole and Emile Heskey were reportedly subject toa barrage of racist abuse from sections of the Slovakian crowd.
Arsenal star Cole said: “It was all over the stadium and when I went to pick the ball up a couple of times, even the stretcher staff were making monkey chants.”
UEFA has played down reports that Slovakian supporters will face a ban at the return fixture next June.
Responding to claims of racism by the Slovakian support, Dusan Tittel, general secretary of the Slovakian FA stated “we don’t have problems with racism. We accept all English football.”
UEFA communications director Mike Lee stated that the referee had noted the abuse and that it was in his match report, as were the crowd disturbances which lead police to clear a section of the stadium.