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Monday, 24 June, 2002, 11:06 GMT 12:06 UK
Eriksson plots next move
Darius Vassell in action for England against Sweden
Vassell has jumped ahead of Fowler

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England's World Cup campaign may be over as the regrets of the tame exit against Brazil linger on - but coach Sven-Goran Eriksson is already planning for the future.

Eriksson has stated his intention to be in charge for the European Championships in 2004 and the World Cup in Germany in 2006.

The question that will be answered next is how many of those he took to Japan will be retained for the next stage of the Swede's England renaissance.

Eriksson is not given to detailed explanations of his plans, so England's next move can only be assessed in coded messages from the coach.

Open Quote
You learn about those who are tournament players and those who are not
Close Quote
Sven-Goran Eriksson

And one such message may have emerged when Eriksson was asked what he had learned from campaign that had moments of satisfaction, but ultimately underscored how far England still have to travel to join the elite.

"Maybe I have not learned much about coaching, but I have learned a lot about living together as a team," he said.

"I have learned that small details are very important when you are in a big tournament like this. We were together for five weeks - which is a long time."

Eriksson added: "You learn a lot about players, and you learn a lot from some small mistakes which you will not repeat the next time.

England goalkeeper David James
James could be in line for promotion
"You learn about those who are tournament players and those who are not."

No names of course, but in that single sentence Eriksson hinted that some members of his squad may not necessarily be around for the next England game.

It may be age that is the factor in some cases, but it may be attitude with others.

Age will end the careers of some, with goalkeepers David Seaman and Nigel Martyn likely to make way for young blood.

David James may take over as number one, but if Leeds United's Paul Robinson can displace Martyn at Elland Road then he may well do the same for England.

Perhaps the biggest question mark hangs over another Leeds United player, striker Robbie Fowler.

There is no suggestion Fowler's attitude was remiss, but he above all may look back on this World Cup as a competition that passed him by.

Fowler, surprisingly, got 45 minutes against Denmark after being over-looked against Sweden, Argentina and Nigeria.

Robbie Fowler in action for England against Denmark
Fowler's star may be on the wane
But he did not cut the razor-sharp figure of old and may just be a casualty of this World Cup campaign.

Eriksson turned to him for the second half against Denmark, but the man widely regarded as the country's most natural finisher was nowhere to be seen when England needed a goal desperately against Brazil.

The notion of Darius Vassell playing ahead of Fowler would have been laughed out of court 12 months ago - now it is a move that barely raises a debate.

Fowler, you suspect, needs a massive start to next season with Leeds United.

Vassell has clearly jumped ahead of Fowler, leaving him at best fourth in the pecking order - maybe fifth if Eriksson decides to stick with Teddy Sheringham.

But Eriksson will soon have West Ham's Jermain Defoe and Leeds' Alan Smith at his disposal.

England Under-21 boss David Platt was with Eriksson in Japan, and he will undoubtedly have been repeating the rave reviews he gave Defoe and Smith after the recent European Under-21 championship.

They will be pushing for places for the European Championship game against Slovakia - and that squad may well reveal who uncovered themselves to Eriksson as the men who could not cope with tournament life.


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GROUP F
  P GD PTS
SWEDEN 3 +1 5
ENGLAND 3 +1 5
ARGENTINA 3 0 4
NIGERIA 3 -2 1

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