Wenger Backs His Veterans

Daily Mail (London), October 6, 1998 | Go to article overview
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Wenger Backs His Veterans


Byline: DAVID MCDONNELL

ARSENE WENGER believes his veteran back four should form England's defence against Bulgaria and claims Glenn Hoddle's persistent refusal to pick them all is solely down to their age.

The quartet of Tony Adams, 31, Martin Keown, 32, Lee Dixon, 34, and Nigel Winterburn, 34, formed the backbone of Arsenal's Double-winning side last season and Wenger insists they are the best defensive unit in the country and that they deserve to represent their country in front of another Highbury favourite, goalkeeper David Seaman.

Hoddle named Seaman, Adams and Keown in his 26-man squad for Saturday's Euro 2000 qualifier at Wembley. But there was no place for Winterburn or Dixon, who have been ignored by the England coach since he took over in 1996.

The Highbury back four have made more than 1,500 appearances in total but Hoddle has consistently refused to pick Dixon and Winterburn when selecting his national squad.

Yet, Wenger believes the fact that his players have been winning trophies in harness for almost 10 years gives them an edge over others and that they would take their understanding at club level to the international stage with consummate ease.

The Frenchman concedes he thought he would have to break up the successful defence when he arrived at Highbury two years ago but admits he gave the players the chance to prove themselves and now believes he has the best back four in Europe.

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