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Friday, 3 May, 2002, 14:28 GMT 15:28 UK
England's Neville dilemma
Gary Neville's injury means the likes of (from right) Owen Hargreaves, Danny Mills and Steven Gerrard may play at right back


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Gary Neville's cracked metatarsal hardly warranted a fraction of the headlines generated by his best mate David Beckham's similar injury.

But Neville's absence from the England team will nevertheless leave Sven-Goran Eriksson's side as lopsided as Neville's new walk.

Gary Neville
Facts and figures
Age: 27
Caps: 52
Debut: 06/95 v Japan
Honours: Premier League 96, 97, 99, 00, 01
FA Cup: 96, 99
Champs League: 99

While Beckham, Michael Owen and Steven Gerrard have emerged as the images of Eriksson's young England, Neville has quietly gone about his business and made the right-back shirt his own.

Often overlooked by fans and media alike - and by the England hierarchy when it came to reallocating Beckham's captain's armband - Neville is nonetheless one of the senior members of England's squad.

Regularly one of the first names on Eriksson's - and Sir Alex Ferguson's - team-sheets, Neville is the most-capped outfield player in the current England squad.

But he will not add to his haul of 52 caps until after England's World Cup campaign in Korea and Japan.

Neville is one of those taken-for-granted footballers of metronomical consistency, footballing proof of the old adage that you don't know what you've got until it has gone.

Evidence is provided by the lack of obvious candidates to fill the void, with Neville having been one of the few players whose place in the starting 11 was seemingly rubber-stamped.

Here, BBC Sport Online runs the rule over the leading candidates to fill the right-back role:


Bayern Munich's Owen Hargreaves
Owen Hargreaves
Bayern Munich:
Age: 21
Caps: 4
Young and inexperienced at international level, but a season as a virtual ever-present in the Bayern Munich side speaks volumes for his ability.
A gifted midfield talent, switching him to full-back would constitute a gamble, but Eriksson did try him in the position to great effect against Paraguay.

Liverpool's Jamie Carragher
Jamie Carragher
Liverpool

Age: 24
Caps: 8
Versatility already makes him a valuable member of the England squad, with Carragher capable of slotting in anywhere across the back four or in midfield.
Comfortable at right-back, arguably his best position having enjoyed some of his finest performances at club level in the role.

Manchester United's Phil Neville
Phil Neville
Manchester United
Age: 25
Caps: 37
Some compensation for Gary Neville losing his World Cup ticket would be seeing his younger brother come in as replacement.
An able deputy, Phil had once been tipped to take over the position from his brother, though Gary cemented his position at club and international level.
More experience than the other potential replacements put together and that could swing Eriksson's decision. But not as dynamic going forward as his brother and distribution can be a weakness. Missed out on the final squad cut for France 98 and endured a miserable Euro 2000 as a left back.

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard
Steven Gerrard
Liverpool
Age: 22
Caps: 10
Looked talented when deployed as a full-back for Liverpool, but would probably look talented if he played in goal. Capable and comfortable in the position, but moving him from midfield would be a waste of his true talents. More likely to act as emergency cover should Gary Neville's replacement suffer an injury.

Leeds United's Danny Mills
Danny Mills
Leeds United
Age: 25
Caps: 5
A right-back, plain and simple. Eriksson likes big players at big clubs and knows what he is getting from Mills. Strong in the tackle and aggressive going forward, Mills can also deliver a mean cross.
On the downside, Mills has started only once - in a friendly against Mexico - and ill discipline is also a major headache for Eriksson.

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