Sven to start Wright-Phillips
By Graeme Bailey
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Sven Goran Eriksson has revealed Shaun Wright-Phillips will start against Holland.
England coach Sven Goran Eriksson has revealed Shaun Wright-Phillips will start against Holland on Wednesday, but not on the left as many people thought.
It has been widely reported that Eriksson was ready to employ the Manchester City winger on England's problematic left side, but the Swede insists he will play Wright-Phillips on the right - where he has enjoyed massive success with Manchester City.
It now remains to be seen what the make-up of England's midfield will be, with captain David Beckham likely to switch to the middle against the Dutch as a result of Wright-Phillips's promotion to the starting line-up.
It now means that Eriksson must decide if he wants to hand a start to new boy Stewart Downing or whether to switch Frank Lampard or Steven Gerrard to the left - where they have both been tried previously. There is also an option to drop Wayne Rooney back into midfield, with Jermain Defoe and Michael Owen possibly filling the forward roles.
Fellow debutant Andy Johnson will also feature in some part of the game following his fine form for Crystal Palace this term.
Eriksson confirmed that Jamie Carragher and Wes Brown will form the central defensive partnership after a number of withdrawals in defence.
"No, I am not going to put Shaun Wright-Phillips to the left," confirmed the England coach, who refused to confirm a debut for Downing.
"I think this afternoon you can see the practice and you will understand - but my intention is that Shaun Wright-Phillips, Downing and Andy Johnson will start or take part in the game, because of course I want to see them and probably Shaun Wright-Phillips will start on the right."
Eriksson admits he could not overlook Wright-Phillips any longer.
"I think he deserves it, he has been playing well all season and it should be interesting," he continued.
The Swede also admitted that Downing and Johnson had played themselves into contention with their form this season and he was very happy to have a left-sided player in the shape of the Middlesbrough wide-man.
"It is very good, he is another one making a great season, a young great talent and we don't have too many midfielders who are left footed," he said.
Eriksson admitted he had been in regular contact with his number two and Boro boss Steve McClaren.
"Of course, more or less every week - I don't need a scout for Middlesbrough, of course I asked him before picking him," he continued.
The Three Lions supremo also revealed that Johnson had only come into his thinking this term.
"No he wasn't [in his mind before this season], but he is another one who has had a great season and by picking them, I want to see them," he added.
Eriksson also admitted that Carragher and Brown would be given the chance to start in central defence.
"Of course it is a blow that we have four or five central defenders away because of injuries, but it is good for Carragher and Wes Brown to show what they can do and the rest of the squad is more or less in tact," he said.
He also dismissed claims that any one of his missing central defenders were pulled out by their clubs and were not injured.
"Absolutely not, Campbell is out for a while now and Ferdinand, Terry, Upson and King - they are desperate to play and for them they are most disappointed," he opined.
Eriksson is also hoping that his charges can improve on their last display against Spain.
"I hope we can make a better performance than we did against Spain," he said.
The Swede also admitted he was glad to see captain David Beckham return to form at Real Madrid.
"I think Real Madrid is playing much better football now and they seem fitter, and that helps David Beckham and after Christmas he has been playing better football," he revealed, also admitting he was disappointed Michael Owen did not get more playing time.
"If you take the positive side he will not be tired," he joked.
"But of course it must be frustrating to him. He has always been one of those picked first of all. At Real Madrid, he features and cannot do much better than he has."