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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 March, 2005, 08:45 GMT 09:45 UK
Eriksson to keep Cole on the left
England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson
Sven-Goran Eriksson believes Joe Cole can be the long-term solution to England's left-flank problem.

"He can be the answer if he carries on like this," said the England coach after Cole's impressive display in the 4-0 win over Northern Ireland.

"He was excellent and I don't think he lost the ball in a stupid way once, which has happened before.

"Of course he's very talented - he can beat people, he scores goals - but he also defended very well today."

He added: "He has finally learned that football is not only about making tricks. It is about choosing when to do it and when not to do it.

"He was absolutely perfect and, if he goes on like this, it would be very difficult to move him from that position."

We have a small problem with David Beckham's back and Steven Gerrard got a knock on his ankle
Sven-Goran Eriksson

Cole, who capped his display with the opening goal, felt he had proved a point to Eriksson.

"It was nice to get the goal but the main thing was to show the boss I could be disciplined," he said.

"Even at 3-0 up, I wanted to keep it simple and do my bit for the team.

"But I'm not going to get carried away. I did all right but there's another game on Wednesday and things can turn around in a second."

It took England until the 47th minute to break the deadlock but Cole's opener sparked a flurry of three goals in seven minutes.

The first goal was a major one
N Ireland boss Lawrie Sanchez

Eriksson said he was particularly pleased with the way his side had kept possession.

"I think we have become better and better at keeping the ball and I was pleased with it again today," he said.

"Sometimes when you don't score early, you lose positions and you try to play football for yourself, but it was a very professional performance."

Eriksson revealed that midfielders David Beckham and Steven Gerrard had picked up injuries but he is confident they will be fit to face Azerbaijan on Wednesday at St James' Park.

"We have a small problem with the back of Beckham and Steven Gerrard got a knock on his ankle in the first half but there shouldn't be any problems for Wednesday night. I don't think so," he said.

Beckham felt England might have scored more goals if Michael Owen had taken a golden opportunity in the first-half.

"It could have been six or seven. If Michael had scored I am sure we could have broken them down a bit more often," said the England captain.

"You have to give credit to Northern Ireland I suppose. They worked hard and gave us a tough game until we scored."

Interview: England head coach Sven-Goran Eriksson

Interview: England captain David Beckham

Interview: England midfielder Joe Cole

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