Football: Le Saux Is So Forward Thinking

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Blackburn Rovers. .2

Wilcox 17, Sherwood 65

Liverpool. .0

Attendance: 20,831

THE CHANGING landscape of English football was encapsulated by events at Ewood Park yesterday. Blackburn, again a growing threat to Manchester United, fielded a talented quartet aiming to play against Denmark in midweek while Liverpool, Rob Jones apart, were littered with England discards. The distinction was particularly sharp at left-back.

Earlier in the season, Julian Dicks was promoted as a potential England candidate; now Graeme Le Saux, a lively contributor to Rovers' Premiership victory over Liverpool, looks set to step up at Wembley.

Despite not being at his peak, Le Saux was still enterprise personified against opponents who enjoyed enough possession to have achieved a draw. Facing the quicksilver Steve McManaman, Le Saux was forced to restrain his own attacking inclinations but still managed to maraud on occasion to trouble Jones.

Whichever midfield formation Terry Venables employs on Wednesday, the onus will be on the full-backs to support forward ventures. This emphasis on flexibility and flair is why Le Saux, a solid defender with a left-wing tendency from his Jersey schooldays, is expected to make his senior debut against the European champions.

Le Saux sustained, in Kenny Dalglish's words, a "couple of raps" in keeping Liverpool at bay but, after a visit to the medical room, he declared himself "fine", so clearing the way for him to become the first Channel Islander to represent his country along, perhaps, with Guernsey's Matt Le Tissier.

Le Saux, as he proved again, has developed substantially since Dalglish stepped in to stop him atrophying at Chelsea. The Blackburn manager has coaxed him in the art of attacking while Ray Harford, Dalglish's number two, had coached Le Saux in defensive duties. …