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Wednesday, 29 May, 2002, 12:12 GMT 13:12 UK
Who should start for England?
Aston Villa's Darius Vassell is set to start alongside Owen
Emile Heskey is promised a starting place for England's opener against Sweden, while David Beckham is fit to play.

Who should be in England's starting line-up?

Sven-Goran Eriksson has decided Heskey will play, but Darius Vassell's recent form suggests the Aston Villa striker will partner Michael Owen up front with Heskey playing behind them on the left.

Meanwhile, Bayern Munich midfielder Owen Hargreaves looks set to pip Nicky Butt to the centre-midfield role alongside Paul Scholes.

And England's talisman David Beckham says he is 100% fit to face the Swedes on 2 June.

Who would your England team be?

Have your say

There's no point resting our key players if we can't make the second round. With the hardest group of all, we need to field our strongest side from the start - this means playing Beckham, Dyer and Seaman.
Kevin Eaton, England

I would play Hargreaves at right back because he would be more solid than either Mills or the appalling Brown.
Nicky, England

I wouldn't play Heskey. I'd go with three at the back with Hargreaves and Cole as wing backs, Becks, Scholes and Butt in midfield with Owen and Vassell up front. I think we would be better off getting at the Swedes and not letting them settle.
Ian Waldock, England

I am bemused as to why David Dunn was not taken. More to the point, why wasn't Ledley King brought over to lap up the experience? After all, hasn't Sven said that 2006 will be England's year - if so, King will be in that squad.
Stephen Dunkley, England

Open Quote
Vassell is the real world cup sensation
Close Quote
Rich, Yorkshire, England

What we can't understand over here in Poland is why you haven't selected Southampton star Chris Marsden as he is the ideal man for your left sided role. By not picking him Eriksson lost any chance of winning the World Cup. He could have been the star of the tournament.
Dave Postolowsky, Poland

In France '98 Owen was an unknown quantity. Most teams didn't know how to play against him and he ended the tournament as one of our best players. This year I believe that the likes of Darius Vassell, Joe Cole, Wayne Bridge and Owen Hargreaves will do the same but only if Sven picks them (obviously).
Dave Lloyd, England

We should line up as follows: Wright, Bridge, Ferdinand, Campbell, Southgate, Dyer, Hargreaves, Cole, Scholes, Owen and Vassell (the real world cup sensation.)
Rich, Yorkshire, England

Open Quote
If Owen's hamstring goes again I can't see where the goals are going to come from
Close Quote
Steve Johnson, England

Since we're not going to win we might as well give some young players like Danny Mills and Joe Cole some experience.
Joel Wood, England

It could depend on the fitness of our key players and if Owen's hamstring goes again, I can't see where the goals are going to come from. Come on England!
Steve Johnson, England

I think England will start with a high tempo, pacey line up of the following: Seaman, Cole, Ferdinand, Campbell, Mills, Heskey, Hargreaves, Scholes, Beckham, Owen, Vassel.

Hopefully they will make a quick start to the match and then maybe when the humidty plays a part later in the game, Sven will have the intelligence of Sheringham and the fresh legs of the likes of Dyer and Joe Cole to freshen up the team.
Aaron Evans, England

Open Quote
Heskey's inability to score won't be a problem as his strength, power and determination will create spaces for Owen
Close Quote
Tom Brierley, England
Heskey is THE role player for Owen. They know each other plus you need a big body up front against their big backs. Vassell will make a great sub if things go wrong after 70 minutes. Hargreaves has proven himself that he deserves a spot. Here is my lineup: Seaman, Hargreaves (rt back), Cambell, Southgate, Cole, Beckham (wing), Scholes, Dyer, Sinclair, Heskey, Owen.
Marc Tremblay, Canada

Heskey's inability to score won't be a problem as his strength, power and determination will create spaces for Owen.
Tom Brierley, England

Considering the length of the tournament and the likelihood of further injuries and suspension a player does not have to take part in the first game to be of use to his side. We must think beyond the first game which we will always have sufficient players for.
Kevin Critchlow, England

I think it's time England took a risk with their forwards and play Owen and Vassell upfront with Joe Cole playing just behind them. Cole is the one talent that can unlock any defence and the other two have unbelievable pace.
Stewart Gillies, England

Open Quote
All the suggestions of Fowler and Owen starting together upfront is a big mistake
Close Quote
Aman Singh, UK

All Canadians are waiting for the World Cup debut of Hargreaves, the first ever international class player who learned the game in Canada. It seems that every step of the way, Hargreaves has seized the moment, coming on strong when he's has been given a chance. Somehow, I expect he'll do the same at this World Cup.
David staples, Canada

Beckham must start against Sweden, firstly, because of the boost it will give us, secondly, if he breaks down he can be substituted. It would be pointless to bring him on in the second half considering this risk - we don't want a sub being substituted. Sven will start with him!
Daniel Signy, england

Beckham shouldn't start the Sweden game. Maybe as a half time sub. Vassell cannot be over looked. England starting against Sweden. IX: Seaman, Mills, Campbell, Keown, A Cole, Butt, Scholes, Hargreaves, Heskey, Owen, Sheringham.
Dan Cheriton, England

All the suggestions of Fowler and Owen starting together upfront is a big mistake. It's obvious they can't play in the same team (take Liverpool) they never clicked as a partnership for Liverpool - so what makes us think they could click together for England!!
Aman Singh, Wolverhampton, UK

Open Quote
Hargreaves deserves to start after two man of match performances in warm up games
Close Quote
Matt Davenport, England
Owen and Vassell should be the strikers - their goal-getting statistics for England tell no lies.
James Lester, London, England

Despite Heskey's lack of goals he will win free kicks from which a fit Beckham will exploit with relish. The first game is likely to be a draw.
Colin Jack, england

England must be enterprising and not worry about the ifs and buts. Go for the kill with Beckham, Vassell, Hargreaves and Mills, the 4 players that are subject to debate. Beckham is inspiration, Vassell and Hargreaves provide youth and vigour and Mills the "Norman Hunter" steel that England need.
Azmil Khalid, Malaysia

Free from injuries the team more or less picks itself. Heskey would make more of an impact coming off the bench using pace and power against tired, sun burnt defenders. Hargreaves deserves to start after two man of match performances in warm up games, and his engine and determination will be an asset in the heat.
Matt Davenport, England

Open Quote
Wayne Bridge has performed incredibly well in the last five games
Close Quote
Liam Hitchins, England
Darius Vassell has to be a dead cert to start against Sweden alongside Owen. Sheringham and Heskey are not up to the job. Becks should not be risked against Sweden as it will only take one knock to put him out the whole competition.
Liam Hitchins, England

Anyone but Wes Brown! Just because someone plays (poorly) for Manchester United should not mean they automatically qualify to play for England. When will Ferguson and Eriksson wake up to this guy's blatant lack of talent.
Jayne Clark, England

I don't understand why there isn't more debate over the left back position. Wayne Bridge has performed incredibly well in the last five games, whilst Cole hasn't really featured. Why is it that Cole is an automatic choice?
Alex, England

I now believe that England can progress through the group stage, play Beckham, Vassell, Hargreaves and Owen and we might go a little further than that
Anthony O'Grady, England

Open Quote
Trevor Sinclair has been the best performer out left out of any other player there including Joe Cole
Close Quote
Graeme Reid, Scotland
The man most likely to get the boot from that line up is Heskey, and if he doesn't perform against Sweden I would be bringing Joe Cole or Sinclair in for him.
Mark, Australia

I'm a big fan of Heskey - he compliments Owen very well at Liverpool. However, if Sven wants to play with Vassell and Owen up front then he should leave Heskey on the bench. He's not midfielder - play Hargreaves or Cole on the left instead and bring Heskey up front if it's all going pear shaped!!
Simon Collins, England

Trevor Sinclair has been the best performer out left out of any other player there including Joe Cole.
Graeme Reid, Scotland

We are not going to beat the Swedes physically at the back due to the commanding presence of Andersson. Instead we should rely on the pace of Owen and Vassell, coupled with the cunning of Beckham and Scholes.

Hargreaves should do a man to man marking job on Freddie Lundberg if he plays.
Simon James, England

Open Quote
Sven has got to play Hargreaves in the middle or on the left of the midfield
Close Quote
Tim Rice, England
I like Owen and Sheringham up front.
Niall, UK

I would replace Heskey late on and let Vassell loose on the Swedes as he hasn't put a foot wrong.
Rick, Manchester

As long as Wes Brown doesn't start I think we'll be fine. Does anyone know why he's even there?!
Jonny Dean, England

Sven has got to play Hargreaves in the middle or on the left of the midfield. The boy Fowler should be starting up front with Owen, and put Heskey on the bench.
Tim Rice, England

Open Quote
Keep Dyer for Argentina, unless Sinclair finds form
Close Quote
Joby, England
I cannot believe that Sven is even considering starting Heskey. Vassell should be the one to partner Owen upfront, while Sinclair or Joe Cole would be a far better option on the left side. Heskey has done little to impress both in recent England games and the later stages of the season for Liverpool. Big Mistake!
Chris, England

I do not care as song as they win! Just get through the first game with no more injuries!
Justin O'Sullivan, UK

Heskey would make a good water boy if he doesn't trip over and spill it all! Nicky Butt is ready to come on and sure up the midfield if needed. Keep Dyer for Argentina, unless Sinclair finds form (it's a fairytale for him so he may just be a star.)
Joby, England

I think it should be Heskey and Owen up front. It worked for Liverpool, and it worked for England against Germany. But any of the other three strikers can play a vital role in the last 20-30 minutes of all our games. Sheringham can unlock defences, Fowler is a predator in the box, and Vassell has pace and is on form.
David Rol, English in Japan

Open Quote
Wes Brown just doesn't cut it as a wing back
Close Quote
Nick, UK

The defence should be Seaman, Campbell, Southgate, Mills and Cole. Ferdy lacks concentration, I'd much prefer having a boring centre back like Southgate. Midfield reads Becks, Scholes, Butt and Sinclair, assuming Dyer's out. Note the Man Utd connection - they are all familiar with each other. Sinclair is in because he's the only one fit and plays on the left. Forwards are Owen and Vassell. The latter gets in cos he's on fire at the moment.
G Fong, Hong Kong

Beckham must be sub on Sunday. He hasn't played a competitive match for a month and 90 minutes in Japanese humidity is too much. Bring him on early if things start going wrong, but if not twenty or thirty minutes will be fine. The important thing is that he is fresh for Argentina
Richard Kowenicki, UK

I would play: Seaman, Mills, Campbell, Ferdinand, Cole, Beckham, Hargreaves, Scholes, Sinclair, Owen and Heskey. A tried and tested formation with Dyer and Vassell expected to play a part from the bench. This limits us to one "injured" player (Beckham) and allows Sinclair to play on the left where he is comfortable. I only worry about Danny Mills' temperament but hopefully against Sweden that should not be too much of a problem, Wes Brown just doesn't cut it as a wing back.
Nick, UK

Wayne Bridge looks to have claimed his place on the left side of defence. He's sounder defensively than Ashley Cole, and hasn't put a foot wrong in an England shirt!
Andy, Ireland

Open Quote
Hargreaves and Vassell have done everything asked of them and more...give them a chance!
Close Quote
Tyrone Homes, England
If, as I fear, we haven't broken down the Swedes by 65-70 minutes, I would bring on Sheringham for Heskey and maybe Vassell for one of the injury-depleted midfielders and play 4-3-3. I am not the biggest Sheringham fan and my toes curl every time a commentator reminds me how "intelligent" he is, but for a team that struggles to break down defensive sides he could hold the key.

Fowler is another option as a substitute as his knack of scoring from short appearances and a premium of chances could be vital.
Luke, London, UK

I foresee Dyer, Owen and Heskey being used to wear down the aging Swedish defence with their pace. Then Sven will bring on his really fast striker - Vassell. But keep your nerve; it may not be until the last five minutes that we break through.
Rich, England

Becks should start but Sven should be prepared to take him off if he gets tired. Hargreaves and Vassell have done everything asked of them and more...give them a chance!
Tyrone Homes, England

England have to play their best team that means Beckham and Dyer if they are fit. After Hargreaves' recent run he should get the nod over Butt.

Open Quote
Fowler is the only other striker along with Owen who is good enough to mix it with teams like Sweden and Argentina
Close Quote
Charlotte Maltese, England and Italy
Heskey is a must up front, I know he doesn't score a lot but what he brings to the team no one else can. Do not play him on the left.
Jags, Germany

I believe that Beckham should only play the second half against Sweden, with Trevor Sinclair playing the first. The full starting XI: Seaman, Campbell, Ferdinand, Ashley Cole (depending on fitness), Dyer, Hargreaves, Joe Cole, Sinclair, Scholes, Owen and Vassell.
Keiron Stoneman, England

Fowler is the only other striker along with Owen who is good enough to mix it with teams like Sweden and Argentina. Sven needs to try and keep the same starting line up wherever possible - you can't win a tournament if you don't know your best team.
Charlotte Maltese, England and Italy

After his surprisingly effective display against Cameroon I'd start Sinclair on the left. Heskey seems certain to play, but I'd far rather see Sheringham up front. With Gerard out we'll need his intelligence and experience to unlock a very well organised Swedish defence.
Matthew Roberts, England

Open Quote
Heskey's pace later on in the game could make the difference between a win and a draw
Close Quote
Joe Hurley, England
Beckham should be rested until the Argentina game to avoid any nasty tackles from the Swedes, that will be the crunch match and I feel that we have enough class on our side without Beckham to beat the Swedish, even though our records against them so far has not been great.
Simon, UK

Heskey's pace later on in the game could make the difference between a win and a draw - I can't see England losing this one.
Joe Hurley, England

There's no point playing Heskey against Sweden, as their big, physical defence will mop up everything he can throw at them. Save Bruno for Argentina.
Steve Maybury, England

I believe a strong case can be made for David Beckham playing alongside Scholes in a central-midfield role, with Dyer (right) and Ashley Cole (left) completing the midfield quaret. A central midfield role for Beckham would accomodate his tendency to roam all over the midfield.

Heskey & Owen should start with Vassell to come on off the bench.
Michael , England

Open Quote
Owen and Vassel will worry the Swedish defence
Close Quote
Ian W, Scotland
lets not kid around, this first game is not the hardest one we'll play so keep Becks on the bench and if things are going bad bring him on.
Ricki Walker, England

Go for youth: James in goal, Mills, Ferdinand, Campbell and Cole at the back. Beckham, Butt, Scholes and Hargreaves in midfield. The pacey Owen and Vassel will worry the Swedish defence.
Ian W, Scotland

Leave Heskey out; play Owen, Vassell and Sheringham up front. Play Ashley Cole on the left of midfield with Wayne Bridge at left back. Danny Mills at right back. Seaman in goal. Come on England!
Gareth, UK

I think Beckham should start but not Dyer because it would be too much of a risk.
Ben, England

Open Quote
With Gerrard out no one else knows Owen's runs better than Heskey
Close Quote
Adnan Gandhi, USA
Martyn in goal, he has been consistent all season. A defence of Mills, Ferdinand, Campbell and Bridge. Midfield right to left of Beckham, Scholes, Hargreaves and Ashley Cole. Up front, Owen and Britain's most natural finisher- Robbie Fowler.
Simon Mabon, UK

Owen is a must upfront, with Vassell the form striker as his partner, Heskey has the impact for an off the bench burst later on.
Michael Williams, Zimbabwe

Kieron Dyer is a good example of a conscientious, patriotic and hardworking citizen. Despite his knee injury, his desire to play for his country matches no other so far in this tournament.

If only the England team had half his courage, they will definitely progress to the final stages.
Suzanne Salami, England

With Gerrard out no one else knows Owen's runs better than Heskey. Plus, England has the talents of scoring midfielders in Beckham and Scholes.

Look at how many goals Zidane, Ljungberg, and Ballack score for their countries.
Adnan Gandhi, USA

Open Quote
Fowler and Joe Cole are excellent players to bring off the bench
Close Quote
Simon Elworthy, England
I'd start with Owen who is always a threat to any defence. Along with Heskey who I feel is misplaced on the left. He is tower of strength from which Owen can thrive along with help from the midfield.
Craig, England

Looking at the team there are potentially several question marks. Can Mills perform? Probably better than Brown but not a Neville for sure. Can Hargreaves plug the gap Gerrard left? Difficult one, as is whether Butt could do it. I don't think either can but Hargreaves' pace and versatility would in my book put him just above Butt.
Anis Suterwalla, London, England

Not Trevor Sinclair.
Dan, UK

If Sven decides to start Heskey in his team, believe me and forgive me England will not clear the first hurdle.
Kishore, USA

Open Quote
Give Vassell a go and see how he gets on
Close Quote
Steve, England
If Sven is going to stick with Heskey, then I'd rather that he put him on the left than up front. Fowler and Joe Cole are excellent players to bring off the bench.

As long as Keown doesn't play, we've got a chance of doing really well. COME ON!
Simon Elworthy, England

The major problem position remains left-midfield - we do not have a natural player in that position, the only real option remains Le Saux who has not travelled !
Tom Attree, England

Vassell and Owen up front should be something else. Although if it were possible to start with Fowler on the pitch I would! Dyer hasn't proved himself yet - but I'm sure he will! Come on England!
Matt Scott, England

Give Vassell a go and see how he gets on. If you look at the strikers on the bench, there are plenty of other options if Vassell doesn't do well.
Steve, England

Open Quote
The talk about Mills' temperament is over the top
Close Quote
Rodney Appleyard, England
I don't think Bridge will start, nor Vassell, but if I was Sven I would have him and Owen running the back four ragged, setting the scene for Teddy to come on with 20 mins to go picking holes with Scholes in the defence.

I can't understand the allegiance to Heskey who is a decent club player and sadly little more.
Jack, Ireland

Beckham should start, if he's fit. He's England's best player and presumably he's going to be short of match fitness, so he needs to play. There's no point resting him against Sweden, if he is fit, because they are a good side, and Beckham will only be rustier when he does play.
Tom Dawson, England

The talk about Mills' temperament is over the top. He has not shown any sign of having a short fuse during the built up and has had a few decent shots on goal, which is very encouraging considering he's a defender.
Rodney Appleyard, England

Without a doubt I think Beckham should start, but I think they should surround him with the rest of the team to protect that foot from any more injuries.

Unfortunately he will be fair game for anyone looking to crop him. Maybe Sven should consider playing him in goal...just think what he could do with a goal kick!
Paul, UK

Open Quote
Bring on Vassell for pace in the second half when players begin to tire
Close Quote
Nick, England
Heskey is giving us nothing at the moment! Hargreaves should be first choice in place of Gerrard. Come on the boys.
Phill Hickson, England

I have to disagree with Sven's decision to start with Heskey, his recent performances have been shambolic. He doesn't seem to possess the determination to succeed for his country.

My line up would be: Seaman, Mills, Ferdinand, Campbell, A.Cole, Beckham, Hargreaves, Scholes, Dyer/J.Cole, Owen and Fowler. Use Hargreaves as he is in form, and bring on Vassell for pace in the second half when players begin to tire.
Nick, England

My team would be: James, Ferdinand, Campbell, A. Cole, Brown, J. Cole, Scholes, Hargreaves, Beckham, Owen, Heskey. Come on lads!
Peter Adams, England

How about Joe Cole on the left side?
Nick, USA

Open Quote
With Beckham back and healthy I think we can do it
Close Quote
Matt Mead, England
As Vassell is in form he should start up front with Owen. As Sven has already said Heskey will start then stick him on the left and he can work up and down and hopefully keep out of the way of the front two!
Den, England

Sven is still worrying about our right back place with Ljungberg playing. I would not be surprised if he opts for Hargreaves
Paul Doherty, England

Darius Vassell should get the start up top with Michael. He has proven that he can score for the national team and I think he can continue in the World Cup. Hargreaves should start in the midfield; I got a chance to see him play for Bayern Munich and he impressed me every time. We all saw what he did against South Korea. With Beckham back and healthy I think we can do it.
Matt Mead, England

Easy: Seaman, Mills, Ferdinand, Campbell, Bridge, Beckham, Hargreaves, Scholes, Dyer (if not then Joe Cole), Owen, Heskey - he's not the best striker of the four, but as a partnership they're the two to play.
Freddie Carver, England

Open Quote
The boy from Brum is on fire!
Close Quote
Jonny, USA
The defence seems all sown up with Seaman, Campbell, Ferdinand, Cole and Mills set to start. As for the midfield, I'd go for a five man midfield with Heskey on the left, Beckham on the right and a solid trio of Butt, Scholes and Hargreaves in the middle. Owen will be alone up front but can be joined by Heskey with one of the central trio filling the left wing when required.

This way the team is flexible and can win the game through the midfield battle but utilise the pace of Owen and Heskey as a striking duo. If things don't go to plan, Vassell can replace one the central trio and switch the formation to 4-4-3
Paul Griffiths, UK

Vassell. No question. Three goals in four games for his country. The boy from Brum is on fire!
Jonny, USA

There is no way that Emile Heskey should be in the starting line up. He is not scoring goals as a forward and looks totally out of place wide on the left of midfield. Joe Cole should definitely start on the left.
John Campbell, England

Let's not have Heskey on the left - in fact let's not have Heskey and let's have Ashley further up the pitch with Dyer on the bench. Vassell has proved his selection ahead of Heskey with his scoring rate for England. Butt may be fit but he's been out for a while and Hargreaves has been on great form in the friendlies so why not use him as the defensive midfielder?
Neil Grutchfield, England

Open Quote
At least we're not short of attacking options
Close Quote
Al, England
Seaman should play in goal. The defence should be Mills, Ferdinand, Campbell and Bridge. The midfield (from right) should be Beckham, Butt, Scholes and Hargreaves. Up front we should play Owen and Heskey. I think we should play Hargreaves over Dyer as he has demonstrated his potential in each of the last three games - in my opinion he has been the best England player in recent games.

All in all it would be too risky to play all three injury doubts in the first game as one is bound to have a problem - and Dyer is the only player of the three yet to make his mark in International football.
Jonathan Smallwood, England

Seamen should be in goal - Martyn and James have looked shaky in the warm ups and Seamen is proven at this level. The back four should be Ferdinand, Campbell, Mills and Cole - these four pretty much pick themselves - the only other option would be for Bridge to step in for Cole but I don't think he's ready for this yet.

Midfield and injuries permitting: Beckham, Scholes and Hargreaves with Sinclair, who looked excellent against Cameroon, on the right. Heskey and Owen up front. Heskey can draw defenders and create space for Owen which is going to be vital against good sides. Sheringham will hopefully play as a sub, as will Fowler and Vassell. At least we're not short of attacking options.
Al, England

England cannot afford to have three players that are not match fit in their midfield. Beckham is a certainty if fit but Hargreaves may have played his way into the team. On another day, Butt may play with Hargreaves but against the resolute Swedes we will need the extra creativity afforded by either Joe Cole or Kieran Dyer.
Tim Evans, England

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