England, Turkey prepare for Euro qualifier

England and Turkey meet at Sunderland's Stadium of Light on Wednesday in a Euro 2004 qualifier that is likely to have a crucial bearing on the outcome of their

updated: February 25, 2007 09:48 IST
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England and Turkey meet at Sunderland's Stadium of Light on Wednesday in a Euro 2004 qualifier that is likely to have a crucial bearing on the outcome of their group. Turkey lead the group on nine points after winning their first three games, while Sven Goran Eriksson's side are second two points behind. Sven Goran Eriksson is quickly finding out just how difficult life as coach of England's soccer team is. After enjoying a 'honeymoon' period in helping England reach the 2002 World Cup, the Swede is beginning to feel pressure on his position increasing from sections of the British media. England are currently in a tricky spell, having drawn at home to Macedonia in a Euro 2004 group seven qualifier before losing 3-1 at home to Australia. Eriksson's side then looked far from impressive in a 2-0 win over Liechtenstein last Saturday, with Michael Owen one of the few players to perform well. The Liverpool striker scored the opening goal in Vaduz to help keep England's campaign on track for the crucial game against Turkey. "Well it's a big, big game. I've said before when the draw was made, Turkey was always going to be the crunch game, with all due respect to the other nations in the group. We felt as if it was going to be between us and Turkey to see who wins it and who comes second and that's the case now, if we win we're top, if they win they're top. These two games are probably going to be the make-or-break of the group campaign, whether we can come first or second. So we want to have a good result, have something to go to Turkey with in the last game," said Owen. England captain David Beckham did not train on Monday due to foot blisters but is still expected to be fit in time for the game against the World Cup semi-finalists. Meanwhile, speculation abounds that Eriksson will select Everton's prodigious 17-year old striker Wayne Rooney ahead of misfiring Emile Heskey. One man sure to be on the teamsheet is Sol Campbell. The Arsenal defender sat out the game in Liechtenstein with an Achilles injury, but is certain to be included against a side he has the upmost respect for. "Turkish people and Turkish football - the love affair with football is fantastic. You go to any of their top games any of their fans are fantastic. They've got football in their blood and they want to do well so come Wednesday it will be a very good game to watch and to take part in," said Campbell. Turkish coach Senol Gunes reinforced Campbell's words, keen to ensure both sets of fans simply enjoy the football and not to allow already tense rivalries get further heightened by the situation in Iraq. "I don't agree with the people who think that Turkish people are not good fans so I am against that. Like every other team, I think that England will want to use their home advantage, so I think that England will use that against us as well," said Gunes. Turkey have only one major injury problem heading into the game - Galatasaray defender Hakan Unsal is the only regular who will miss what is undoubtedly a crucial encounter. (AP)