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Thursday, October 7, 1999 Published at 15:36 GMT 16:36 UK


Sport: Football

Fitness boost for Keegan

Trevor Sinclair and Michael Gray are put through their paces in training

Kevin Keegan's hopes of fielding a strong England side in the friendly with Belgium have been given a timely boost by some good news on the fitness front.

Keegan's four injury worries - Alan Shearer, Martin Keown, Tony Adams and Paul Scholes - were all able to train on Thursday ahead of Sunday's match at the Stadium of Light.

Following the withdrawals of David Beckham and Jonathan Woodgate, Keegan had been hoping his 23-man squad would not be further depleted.

Shearer and Keown had missed the last two days with ankle problems, but they both reported fit - as did Adams, an Achilles injury sufferer.


[ image: Paul Ince: Back in the squad after a long absence]
Paul Ince: Back in the squad after a long absence
Even Scholes, rated as the most doubtful of the quartet with a foot and groin injuries, also took part in training.

Shearer is almost certain to start the game up front - possibly alongside in-form Sunderland striker Kevin Phillips, who will be playing at his home ground.

Michael Owen and Emile Heskey are competing with Phillips for the second striker's berth.

Keegan will be relieved that Arsenal pair Adams and Keown are fit, because Gareth Southgate is his only other centre-back in the squad.

Izzet rewarded

One player not in the squad this time around is Leicester's Muzzy Izzet.

But he was given some consolation for being left out when he was named as Carling player of the month for September.

The 24-year-old has been in superb form as the Foxes have stormed up the table and has already scored seven goals from midfield.

"I'm delighted to win the award against quality people like Alan Shearer and Kevin Phillips," said Izzet, a £650,000 signing from Chelsea three years ago.

"I feel as though I'm playing the best football of my career. Now I've got to keep playing well. If I can stay consistent throughout the season, then I'm sure the opportunity of an England call-up will come.

"Steve Guppy and Emile Heskey have broken into the England side so I don't see why I can't."



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