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Friday, 6 September, 2002, 13:32 GMT 14:32 UK
Eriksson hits back
Sven-Goran Eriksson was
Sven-Goran Eriksson was "surprised" to see Scholes
Sven-Goran Eriksson will adopt a new hard-line on fitness after Paul Scholes pulled out of the England squad - and then played for Manchester United.

England coach Eriksson admitted he was "surprised" to see Scholes in the United line-up against Middlesbrough after he was told he would not be available for the friendly against Portugal at Villa Park.

He insisted there had been no row with Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson over the affair - but Eriksson will now crackdown on clubs who withdraw players from England's squad.

Eriksson revealed he is now almost certain to invoke Fifa's five-day rule and order any injured players in his squad to report for checks by England's own medical team.

He said: "It was a surprise to see Scholes because I had talked to Ferguson at Manchester United on Sunday evening or Monday morning, and he was not supposed to play.

"But Ferguson also phoned me straight after the game to explain the reason why. I don't think Scholes was fit, but Ferguson explained he had a lack of players and Manchester United needed to win that game.

"I understand that this is a friendly and there is not three points at stake.

"If it was a friendly, I don't think these players would be playing for their clubs.

Eriksson, who also revealed his dislike of friendlies when he was managing at club level, confirmed he will hold talks with FA chief executive Adam Crozier to ensure the confusion did not arise again.

He said: "I will talk to Adam Crozier about it and we will probably change for the future.

"I told Ferguson I was surprised, but I should like to say I have had a very good relationship with all the managers and I want to go on like that.

"It has created a confusion about things. To avoid confusion in the future, it may be best if everyone reports and then that's it. We can have them here with our doctors and then we can decide.

"We have done everything we can. We can't take away any more friendlies."

Eriksson insisted he did not believe Scholes or captain David Beckham - who has also been pulled out - were fit, otherwise they would have declared themselves available.

He said: "I do not believe a fully fit player would not want to come here. I refuse to believe that. I think Nicky Butt is as important to Manchester United as Paul Scholes at the moment.

"Why is Nicky Butt here? Because he is fit."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's Mike Ingham
"This is as tough as Sven's likely to get"
England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson
"I may use some of the measures available to me"
England v Portugal news

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See also:

04 Sep 02 | Football
06 Sep 02 | England
06 Sep 02 | Europe
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