Last updated : 29 April 2004 By editor

From The Guardian:

'Sven-Goran Eriksson last night cast doubt over Wes Brown's prospects of joining England at the European Championship.

Eriksson's comments come despite a mounting injury crisis at centre-back and suggest he is willing to pay heed to the comments of Brown's Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson. The Scot has put pressure on the England coach to overlook Brown, who because of two cruciate knee ligament injuries has made only 53 Premiership appearances in the past three seasons.

That statistic, and a run of shaky performances until he appeared to find his feet during United's two meetings with Arsenal in the past month, have prompted the Swede to be unusually critical of one of his players. The fact is very simple, even for me to see from outside," said Eriksson in an interview with Radio 5. "Wes Brown is not what he was before his injury. He is struggling a little bit.

"Of course [injuries to England's central defenders] are a concern. Rio Ferdinand, we know for a long time he is out. I always said that I am very happy that Jonathan Woodgate is doing very well. So if he is out as well it is a big concern, of course. Gareth Southgate is a big question mark as well."

Though the lack of any central defensive cover for England must cast the public pronouncments in doubt and remains a worry for United.

As Eriksson's assistant Tord Grip confirmed fears of an injury crisis at centre-half. "At the moment it looks like Sol Campbell and John Terry are the only two who are certain to be fit."