Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Don't Be Too Quick to Judge Eriksson

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Don't Be Too Quick to Judge Eriksson

Article excerpt

Byline: GARETH SOUTHGATE

INJURIES are an occupational hazard for professional footballers but that doesn't make them any easier to bear when they come along.

A torn medial knee ligament has put paid to my hopes of being included in Sven-Goran Eriksson's first squad and that's frustrating since I've made no secret of how important playing for England is to me.

Since I pulled on the white shirt for the first time, back in September 1995, I think I've only missed one squad under Terry Venables and one more when Kevin Keegan was in charge.

Obviously, it would have been good to have been fit and picked for this squad for the match at my club ground, Villa Park, but the real frustration is not being able to work with a new coach and his backroom staff.

As I live close to the team hotel, I popped over on Monday to have a chat with a few of the lads. I met Sven for the first time as well and he asked about the knee and urged me to get fit again.

It was only a brief meeting and I don't know him at all but those people who have worked with Sven say he is a studious, meticulous sort of person, a philosopher about the game and a deep-thinker on man management.

Other countries tend to regard friendlies almost as training exercises but we tend to take them more seriously at the best of times, and especially tonight's match since it is Sven's debut.

I hope people don't go jumping to early conclusions after the match. Sven has signed a long contract and it's a bonus to have him here already when he could still have been at Lazio.

Some people were surprised my Villa team-mate Gareth Barry was left out of the squad but he played in last night's Under-21 match and that gave Sven a chance to look at him.

People forget Barry has only just turned 20 and it's fantastic he has already won six caps. It's important he keeps gaining experience. I was absolutely delighted Chris Powell was picked, however. …

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