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Monday, June 15, 1998 Published at 07:35 GMT 08:35 UK

Sport: Football

England's World Cup kicks off

Glenn Hoddle: time to show he has made the right choices

The waiting is over for Glenn Hoddle's men. They have kicked off against Tunisia at Marseille in their opening World Cup game.

Teddy Sheringham is partnering captain Alan Shearer. The Manchester United striker was chosen ahead of Liverpool's 18-year-old Michael Owen, who is on the bench.

Glenn Hoddle has kept David Batty and Paul Ince together in midfield. Darren Anderton also plays while Manchester United's David Beckham is another substitute.

England's performance will be the yard-stick by which the nation will measure the team's progression under the management of Hoddle and his assistant, John Gorman.

The moment of truth

[ image: Darren Anderton: starts instead of David Beckham]
Darren Anderton: starts instead of David Beckham
It is undoubtedly cruel luck for Beckham who started in every World Cup qualifier, but the contention of Anderton has apparently come after several impressive displays in warm-up matches played behind closed doors.

And despite the criticism Sheringham has received over the last 10 days, his partnership with Alan Shearer has resulted in 17 goals in the 14 games they have started together.

Perhaps it is that - more than anything else - that has swayed Hoddle's opinion.

If history is anything to go by, the odds on England winning their opening fixture are heavily stacked against them.

In the 14 previous opening games of the World Cup, England have only managed to win three. The last was in 1982 against France in Bilbao.

England team:

David Seaman, Gareth Southgate, Tony Adams, Sol Campbell, Darren Anderton, Paul Ince, David Batty, Graeme Le Saux, Paul Scholes, Alan Shearer, Teddy Sheringham.

Click here to get full coverage of France 98 at the BBC's World Cup Website

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