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Archived News from May 2002

31st May 2002 15:44

Evening Post, 31 May 2002

MANSFIELD Town manager Stuart Watkiss believes England will do very well if they can fight their way out of the group of death.

He agrees with the commonly-held belief that the France and Argentina will be the teams everyone has to beat in the coming fiesta of football.

However, despite taking an interest in how England will perform, the last two weeks' of the competition correspond with his holiday and he says he will be just glad to take a break from football.

Sven-Goran Eriksson's side kick off their campaign against Sweden on Sunday and Watkiss they will have to pull out all the stops to get through a group that also contains the Argentinians and Nigeria.

He said: "I think England are going to do very well if they progress past the first stage because the injuries will have hit them hard.

"The players may have declared themselves fit but it must have had an effect on how the team has been able to prepare."

Some of the choices of personnel have also puzzled the Stags boss, including one player who few have talked about in the build-up to the tournament.

He said: "I am very surprised he decided not to take Ray Parlour because he can give England something a bit different. I think he is a super player and I was also shocked that neither Steve McManaman nor Andy Cole weren't taken either.

"But David Beckham is obviously going to be the key player and it will be interesting to see how they get on."

Watkiss believes one of the pre-tournament favourites will be successful when the final is played on June 30.

He said: "France and Argentina are the teams who everyone has got to beat because both are very strong.

"It is all about finding weaknesses though and I think the French have got a problem in the heart of their defence.

"If teams can exploit that, then they could have a few problems.

"Spain usually have a bit of a rough ride in this sort of competition but the potential is there for them to do well and I think they might be strong as well."

However, he will not be spending all his time sat in front of the television watching the action unfold.

He said: "I will actually be on a plane the day England play Nigeria.

"If England are still in it after that, I will probably watch their games but, if they don't do as well as I and everyone else hopes, I will just be having a couple of weeks' complete rest from football."


Latest | May 2002