Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Sven Will Choose Calm Cole

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Sven Will Choose Calm Cole

Article excerpt

Byline: MICHAEL HART

ANDY COLE is set to be given another chance to kick-start his England career in Albania tomorrow night.

Coach Sven-Goran Eriksson will stick with the beleaguered striker, who has not scored in 12 international matches.

Eriksson said today: "Andy had a very good chance against Finland and I think he was unlucky - he is a very good player. I spoke to him yesterday and also a little today and he seems very calm and relaxed. As long as we win it's not important who scores the goals."

Cole, 29, was criticised unmercifully following his poor performance in front of goal against Finland on Saturday.

And he goes into tomorrow's qualifier burdened by the thought that a 13th appearance without a goal could cast him into the international wilderness.

While Eriksson will remain faithful to the Manchester United forward tomorrow, that commitment can't last for much longer.

Eriksson's three predecessors - Kevin Keegan, Glenn Hoddle and Terry Venables - all tried Cole, but each decided they wouldn't entrust their future management prospects to his uncertain form in front of goal.

Eriksson is sure to come to the same conclusion if goals continue to elude Cole. Venables recognised the value of the patience and encouragement that Eriksson is now showing Cole.

During his reign as coach he helped Alan Shearer through a similarly barren spell.

Shearer made 12 England appearances without a goal in the space of 18 months and then rewarded the manager's perseverance in the 13th game - a 1-1 draw with Switzerland in the opening match of Euro 96.

He scored five goals in England's five games in that tournament.

Watford's Luther Blissett was nicknamed 'Luther miss it' after a 12-game goalless run over two years but perhaps the striker who suffered most in front of goal was Mark Hateley, who was given his international debut by Bobby Robson against Russia in 1984.

The former Portsmouth, AC Milan, Monaco and Rangers player scored nine goals in 32 matches for England, but in the last three years of his international career, he went 14 games without a goal.

Cole made his debut in 1995 and, after several substitute appearances in the years that followed, has only just begun to establish himself as first choice. …

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