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Posted on 4 October 2004  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).


Sven-Goran Eriksson says he will wait to see Michael Owen in training with the Three Lions before deciding who will start up front in the crucial World Cup qualifier against Wales.

Owen has been England's number one striker for the last six years and has an astonishing record of 27 goals in 63 appearances in international football.

Now the Real Madrid man is facing competition from in-form Jermain Defoe and fit-again Wayne Rooney - not to mention Alan Smith and Darius Vassell.

To make the conundrum even more complicated, Owen has been left on the bench by his new club Real Madrid this season and is short of match practice.

All in all it leaves Three Lions Head Coach Eriksson with plenty of thinking to do ahead of next Saturday's big match at Old Trafford.

"Of course I have been thinking about Michael's situation because he has been sitting on the bench a lot recently, but I haven't decided what to do yet," revealed Eriksson.

"I won't do until Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday when we have the practice sessions. Then we'll see what is happening.

"To be fair, also, Real Madrid have played five games and Michael played almost one whole game and has come on as a substitute in others.

"They are playing at the weekend, so we'll see if he takes part. Then I want to see him in training of course and decide what to do."

Eriksson's problem is that he has so much talent at his disposal that trying to keep five top-quality strikers happy won't be easy. But he is adamant everyone in the England squad will be given a fair chance.

He said: "I think as a manager you should try to be loyal to your players and I hope they are loyal to me. That's respect. But I can assure you if I think I have one player sitting on the bench who is better than somebody who normally plays then no doubt I will play them.

"It's not like I have favourites. I'm trying to make the best possible team every time I pick it. So of course Defoe still has a chance against Wales.

"The most important thing is the training sessions we have. You will see at once if the players are down, on good form, if they are sharp and so on."

Eriksson is well aware that Owen has never let England down in the past and has been one of our most consistent performers - playing every minute of the last three fixtures against Ukraine, Austria and Poland. So no-one is about to start doubting his qualities - or suggest that he doesn't have the stomach for a fight.

"I think Michael is mentally very strong. I always said that," insisted Eriksson. "He's always been the man for the big games. He might sometimes not play the best but he will score goals for you, that's for sure.

"Of course it's not good for him, for me or for England if he plays too little football. But I am going to talk to him from Tuesday and we'll see how he is.

"Real are only at the beginning of the season, so I'm sure he will have his chances eventually. But of course it's tough for him because he's never been used to sitting on the bench, not for England and not for Liverpool.

"When I see him I want to ask him how life is. I will talk to him but also seeing him in practice is important. He can't be tired, that's for sure, and he might be very hungry."

Choosing who to play up front isn't Eriksson's only dilemma, either. Such is the strength of depth in the England party these days that he has similar problems in defence - where Rio Ferdinand is back after suspension and Sol Campbell returns after injury.

That would be good news for any manager - but with Ledley King and John Terry having proved such able deputies it only adds to the selection headache!

"It gives me a problem but a nice one. An extremely good problem to have," said Eriksson.

"If you talk about Campbell and Ferdinand in Japan they were the best central defenders in the whole tournament - and I think I'm not the only one saying that.

"What I can see with Rio now is that he's very hungry for football and Manchester United are very happy to have him back. He's a leader, he was the captain on Tuesday for his club which was nice to see, and he gives calm to the back line.

"But also we have Ledley King and John Terry playing extremely maturely and very well for England. I think we have four very good central defenders now.

"It's almost luxury to have four centre-halves like that, but we have it. Who is going to play? Well, I have ideas but the training will decide that. And whatever I choose it's a good choice!"

The selection debate continues between the posts as well as in front of them because Eriksson must also decide whether to recall David James in goal or stick with Tottenham's Paul Robinson. Yet another tough call!

"I haven't decided," insisted Eriksson again. "I will wait until we come together. I think at that time it was the right decision to take to leave out David James in Poland but I told him that just because I dropped him his life with England wasn't over.

"In fact, James has been playing very well for Manchester City since that game, but so has Robinson and so has Robert Green to be fair."

England's only other concerns right now are down to injuries.

Wayne Bridge remains doubtful with a calf problem and Eriksson will make a late decision on whether to include the Chelsea player in his final 23 - which will be announced here on TheFA.com at approximately 7pm on Sunday.

Wes Brown is definitely unavailable through injury, as is Kieron Dyer. But with so many places up for grabs in the first team and so many big decisions to make, England training could certainly be a bit tasty next week!