England To Try Out New Midfield Combination for Saturday's Match vs. Argentina
LONDON (AP) - England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson thinks he has finally discovered the correct roles for midfielders David Beckham Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard.
He'll test out his new formation against Argentina on Saturday.
Accused of blundering his way through qualifying for next year's World Cup finals in Germany the Swede appears to have won over some of his critics.
Now Eriksson said he is planning to field his strongest available lineup against Argentina in Geneva.
"We are meeting one of the best teams in the world Eriksson said. "It's important for our confidence that we do well in this game and important for the England fans as well. If they see we can play good football against Argentina it gives us more hope for next summer."
Eriksson has had major problems trying to fit in his three favorite midfielders. Now he's set to play a 4-4-2 formation with Tottenham defender Ledley King in a holding role.
Beckham is set to start on the right Gerrard on the left and Lampard behind a front two of Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney.
King debuted in his new role in last month's 2-1 World Cup qualifying victory against Poland which helped already-qualified England win its group. He only played because Gerrard had a leg muscle injury.
Although England now has several top center backs and a reliable goalkeeper in Tottenham's Paul Robinson the team's bid to win the World Cup for the first time in 40 years may come down to how well Rooney plays.
The Manchester United forward who is only 20 but a Premier League player for four seasons has scored four goals in 11 Premier League games and created several others. He is also willing to help out his defenders.
One of Eriksson's rivals Germany coach Juergen Klinsmann warned Tuesday that England should not expect too much of the young striker.
"I hope that fans and the media do not burden him with the expectations of an entire country Klinsmann said. "He is surrounded by other established and accomplished players who can and will contribute to the team's performance.
"Wayne Rooney is undoubtedly one of the most talented young players in the world today. Rooney is that rare player who appears to play by intuition and is able to change the course of a game with powerful runs strong shooting and incisive passing."
With many of his squad based in Europe Argentina coach Jose Pekerman can call upon the likes of Juan Roman Riquelme Juan Pablo Sorin and Roberto Ayala as well as striker Hernan Crespo who plays for English champion Chelsea.
England's games against Argentina became more intense than ever after Diego Maradona's "Hand of God" goal at the 1986 World Cup finals.
The playmaker punched the ball into the net while jumping alongside England goalkeeper Peter Shilton. Maradona also scored the other goal in Argentina's 2-1 triumph in Mexico City dribbling past almost the entire England team.
Beckham was shown the red card during the 1998 World Cup meeting which Argentina won on penalties. Four years later his penalty in Japan earned England a 1-0 victory in Sapporo.