Sven plans changes
19 Jun 2006 - 12:22:46
Wayne Rooney is set to make his first World Cup start when England take on Sweden in Cologne on Tuesday.
England have already booked their place in the last 16, so Sven-Goran Eriksson plans to use the game to experiment with his starting line-up, even though the result could have a huge influence on their chance of winning the tournament.
A point would be enough to top Group B, but defeat would see them finish as runners-up and potentially place them in the same half of the draw as old enemies Germany and Argentina.
Eriksson is keen to have all his squad available for selection for the last 16 tie against either Germany or Ecuador and plans to rest two of the three players who have already collected yellow cards - Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Peter Crouch - to ensure they avoid a suspension.
Gerrard is likely to be left on the bench, with the much-maligned Owen Hargreaves taking his place in central midfield, meaning Lampard will have to stay on the right side of the referee.
Crouch will also be omitted from the starting line-up, giving Rooney the chance to make his first start since recovering from the foot injury he suffered in April.
The tenacious frontman looked a long way short of 100 per cent when he came off the bench during the second half of the lacklustre 2-0 win against Trinidad & Tobago, but Eriksson will give him an hour to work on his match sharpness against Sweden.
Rooney will play alongside Michael Owen, with the manager keen to give the out of sorts Newcastle United striker the opportunity to play his way back in to form.
The fact neither Rooney nor Owen is fully-fit opens up the prospect of 17-year-old Theo Walcott making an appearance as a second-half substitute.
After two disappointing displays in the victories over Paraguay and the Soca Warriors, Eriksson will be desperate to see his team show signs of hitting peak form.
For Sweden boss Lars Lagerback his side's performance is of no importance as long as they get the right result.
A draw would see them book a place in the last 16, but defeat would leave Sweden sweating on the result of Trinidad & Tobago's clash with Paraguay.
If history counts for anything the Swedes could not have a better opponent for a game they cannot afford to lose, as they have an 11-match unbeaten record stretching over 38 years against the Three Lions.
"The players always want to win. I would truly like to win," said Lagerback."
"At the same time we know one point is good enough. It's always a little special for Sweden teams to play England."
Sweden have gained four points from a dismal goalless draw against ten-man Soca Warriors and a 1-0 win against Paraguay, when Freddie Ljungberg popped up with a late winner.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic will miss the game with a groin injury, with ex-Aston Villa striker Marcus Allback taking his place in the starting line-up.
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