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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 February, 2004, 06:32 GMT
Eriksson warns Fifa
Sven-Goran Eriksson
Portuguese coach Scolari actually made more subs than Eriksson
England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson is on a collision course with Fifa over mass substitutions in friendly games.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter wants a limit of five replacements - the same rule as currently applies to competitive international fixtures.

Eriksson, who used several substitutes against Portugal on Wednesday, said that would be "a big, big mistake".

But Fifa is determined to end the practice and will discuss it at an International Board meeting next week.

Use of subs in friendlies can, under existing rules, be negotiated by the two managers and Eriksson's Portugese counterpart Luis Felipe Scolari actually used every member of his squad in Faro.

It will probably be the last time this will be allowed but the England coach is hoping Fifa has a change of heart.

It is important that we are allowed to make substitutions so that we can see new players
Sven-Goran Eriksson

"I don't know what is going to happen at the Fifa meeting but I hope the substitutes rule will not be changed," said Eriksson.

"In the friendlies it is important that we are allowed to make substitutions so that we can see new players.

"If you think about 1 June and 5 June, when we play our final warm-up games, all the European teams going to Portugal are going to use those games in that way.

Beckham and Owen

"I am sure I won't be able to find one colleague who will be in favour of saying it will be good we can only use five substitutes on those two days.

"I think it is a big, big mistake if we change that rule."

Meanwhile, Eriksson has highlighted the importance of David Beckham and Michael Owen by admitting he would play them at Euro 2004 even if they were only half-fit.

The duo were both struggling for fitness when England lost in the World Cup quarter-finals to Brazil in 2002, but Eriksson says he would do that again.

"Owen and Beckham are very important to us. Owen has been our best goalscorer for many years and the importance of Beckham on the pitch is huge," added Eriksson.

"If I played that game against Brazil again, I would again use them from the start."

England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson
"It should be up to us to decide on substitutes"

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