Eriksson gets Royle approval

JOE Royle fancies England to beat Poland in their World Cup qualifier in Chorzow tomorrow.But the Ipswich Town manager said that the national team is not as good as its fans would like it to be.

JOE Royle fancies England to beat Poland in their World Cup qualifier in Chorzow tomorrow.

But the Ipswich Town manager said that the national team is not as good as its fans would like it to be.

And the man who watched this summer's Euro 2004 finals in Portugal as a summariser for BBC television has sympathy with the plight of England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson.

“Sven's record is good,” said Royle, left, who knows the managerial game inside out after a distinguished career in charge of Oldham, Everton, Manchester City and Ipswich Town.

“Knocking him is a pastime of the national press and this goes with the job. No sooner is a man appointed to run the England side and the knives come out.

“Sven is in the results business and his team played better against Austria in their 2-2 draw on Saturday night than they did in Portugal.

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“They are a decent side, but I watched Brazil play on television the other night and there is little comparison.

“England are not as good as their fans want them to be and expectations level are higher than the ability of the team.

“But unless Poland have improved considerably since I saw them in the 2002 World Cup finals then I fancy England to win tomorrow.”

A bad mistake by goalkeeper David James led to the Austria equaliser in Vienna on Saturday, and Eriksson's head will be on the block in many quarters if his team does not produce a win tomorrow.

Pressure goes with the territory and Eriksson faces a nervous time until his side pits their wits against a Poland side that beat Northern Ireland 3-0 on Saturday and top the group table.

Eriksson's skipper David Beckham has also come under criticism recently and Royle said: “David Beckham's form has not been good although he did well enough against Austria. I read that Terry Butcher has had a go and Terry is entitled to his opinion.”

Former Ipswich defender and England captain Butcher launched a stinging attack on Beckham, claiming he has not had a good game for three years.

Butcher believes any other player would have lost his place by now and has called for improvement against Poland.

“There has been criticism of Beckham and I think he is now the closest he has ever been to playing himself out of the team,” said Butcher.

“If it was not Beckham wearing that number seven shirt and playing like that, a lot of people would be saying what a wretched match he had and should be dropped.”

Eriksson is counting on Beckham being able to prove his fitness despite a rib injury.

Eriksson is still hopeful that both Beckham and Steven Gerrard, who was doubtful for the game in Vienna, will be able to underpin England's midfield.

Beckham and Gerrard sat out the final stages of training yesterday, although the Liverpool midfielder's absence was said to be precautionary.

Beckham, who had a scan last night that showed no underlying problems, was having his condition reassessed this morning ahead of the squad's afternoon training session at the Slaski Stadium.

Eriksson would be extremely reluctant to replace his captain against the Poles, although Shaun Wright-Phillips would be the favourite to slot into the right flank if the need arose.

Nicky Butt has not rejoined the squad as he continues to receive treatment to a hamstring injury at Newcastle, while Owen Hargreaves was not deemed match-fit and did not make the bench in Vienna.

At least Wayne Bridge played a full part in training in Vienna before the squad flew out to Poland, given that he had sustained a knock on his Achilles against Austria.