England eye Warriors scalp
14 Jun 2006 - 15:19:45
England will look to book their place in the last 16 of the World Cup finals with victory against Trinidad & Tobago in Nuremberg on Thursday.
Sven-Goran Eriksson's men opened their Group B campaign with a 1-0 win against Paraguay last Saturday, while the ten-man Soca Warriors shocked Sweden by holding them to a goalless draw.
The results left England in control of the group, despite the fact they were widely criticised for their poor second-half display in the searing heat of Frankfurt.
Much of the flak was aimed at Eriksson, whose decision to take off striker Michael Owen shortly after half-time and replace him with a midfielder, Stewart Downing, appeared to make things worse.
Owen, who is short of match fitness after spending much of the season recovering from a broken foot, looked out of sorts against Paraguay but, with Wayne Rooney still sidelined by his own foot injury, he is certain to start on Thursday.
England captain David Beckham has no concerns about Owen's form and fitness and said: "Michael will come good - he always does in big competitions."
Another player Beckham expects to perform well on Thursday is Trinidad & Tobago captain Dwight Yorke.
The pair played together at Manchester United and Beckham knows his former team-mate's presence will ensure it is not an easy evening for England.
"We always expected it to be a tight group and we always knew there were going to be tough games," he said.
"Dwight has always been a threat to defenders in any game - he's one of the best forwards around.
"He's one of the great strikers and has been for many years. He's their star player - the one all their players probably look up to because of what he's done outside his country."
While Eriksson is set to name an unchanged team, Soca Warriors coach Leo Beenhakker will have to make at least one change as Avery John is suspended after his sending-off against Sweden.
Rangers defender Marvin Andrews is optimistic of recovering from the knee injury that prevented him playing last weekend in time to face England, but he is not guaranteed to be handed a starting place after Trinidad & Tobago's resolute defensive display.
Goalkeeper Shaka Hislop will retain his place in the team after his outstanding performance against Sweden, as Kelvin Jack is still not fully fit, although the West Ham veteran has also picked up a slight knock.