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Thursday, 17 October, 2002, 07:53 GMT 08:53 UK
One solution, more dilemmas
Wayne Bridge in action against Macedonia
Bridge played confidently out of position

England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson discovered a solution to one of his biggest problems, only for more to rear their ugly heads.

Eriksson finally used a European Championship qualifier to answer a question he could have solved in a friendly.

But the outcome is that Wayne Bridge and Ashley Cole can play together down the left.

The pair did enough to suggest that they could be England's left flank for years to come.

Perhaps their age and thin international experience is the reason Eriksson has fought shy of pairing them together.


I'm not going to say I can resolve England's problem down the left
Wayne Bridge

Southampton defender Bridge was the one asked to play out of position, but the advantage of having two full-backs on the same side was that, whenever Cole galloped forward, he did so in the knowledge Bridge would know how to tuck in.

Having two pacy, naturally left-footed players means they can provide a good supply of crosses, and for the hour the two were together they did.

They galloped forward as if on rotation to rain in the sort of supply from the left that David Beckham has always provided from the right.

Bridge came down from the elation of starting in front of his home-town crowd to admit: "I'm not going to say I can resolve England's problem down the left.

"That's up to the manager to decide. I was just happy to get another chance.

"I was the one asked to play out of position but I would have played anywhere.

"As a full-back I know what it's like when you go forward, you need someone to cover. So when Ashley pushed on, he could do so knowing that I would drop in.

"I had an idea I would be playing because we played together in training, and I think we did well together."

But if Eriksson can sleep easier at night, knowing Bridge and Cole can form an effective pairing, he will be waking in a cold sweat over David Seaman.

Of course Eriksson will publicly back the Arsenal stopper, as will all his team-mates.

Privately, though, he will be wondering whether another overhead howler means it is time to thank Seaman for his efforts.

David Seaman
Seaman suffered a howler for England

Not that all is sweetness and light in front of Seaman.

Sol Campell and Jonathan Woodgate were never comfortable enough against the Macedonians to convince anyone they can be England's defensive rock in the event of any injury to Rio Ferdinand.

And then there is Alan Smith.

Undoubtedly talented, but also tainted by a trip-wire fuse which he again let get the better of him.

Smith picks up yellow cards like a combine harvester gathers wheat, to the point where Eriksson must be wondering whether he is a liability.

 VOTE RESULTS
Should England drop David Seaman?

Yes
 76.96% 

No
 23.04% 

41082 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion
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