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Friday, 23 June, 2000, 18:19 GMT 19:19 UK
Look to future, O'Neill urges England
Steven Gerrard
Steven Gerrard: One of few plus points for England
By BBC Sport Online's Pete Lansley.

BBC pundit Martin O'Neill believes England would prosper in the longer term if they could forsake the short-term aim of qualifying for the next World Cup.

The Celtic manager, who is covering the European Championships as part of the BBC's television panel, reckons the key to England putting right the wrongs so evident in their first-round failures would be to allow the young talent to be blooded now.

But, by replacing all the experienced players to bring in a high-quality crop of youngsters, that would place England's chances of reaching Japan and Korea in 2002 in jeopardy.

No manager these days, let alone an international manager, gets time to experiment

Martin O'Neill
England's inability to gain the point against Romania on Tuesday that would have booked a place in Saturday's quarter-final against Italy has brought about a nation's wailing on the failings of Kevin Keegan's team.

"There will be the inevitable clamour for youth to have its fling," said O'Neill. "Nothing wrong in principle with that and certainly there seems no shortage of potential waiting in the wings."

"Steven Gerrard's performance when thrust into the fray at a crucial stage against Germany gave cause for much encouragement."

Martin O'Neill
Martin O'Neill: Some grounds for optimism
"Michael Owen is a player of international standing and, if he steers clear of serious injury, he should go on to fulfil all his potential - while Paul Scholes and David Beckham could take their place in any international set-up in the world."

"Allied to some of the up-and-coming talent, there are some grounds for hope.

"But no manager these days, let alone an international manager, gets time to experiment.

"The World Cup qualifiers are just around the corner and I doubt if the press or the media would allow the England manager the luxury of suggesting that youth be given its head and that qualification for the 2002 finals is, in the overall scheme of things, not that important."

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23 Jun 00 | England
Travel is Leboeuf's England cure
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