Following England's first training session in Durban this afternoon, Head Coach
Following England's first training session in Durban this afternoon, Head Coach Sven-Goran Eriksson told of how impressed he was by the attitude of the players and the desire shown before they take on South Africa on Thursday evening.
The squad landed earlier in the day, and were soon on the training pitch, and Sven was delighted to see how refreshed the players looked.
"I'm a little surprised, they look hungry again after a long season," he said.
"I'm sure they are tired, but they look hungry and want to play football and that's good."
With this friendly fixture, followed by another against Serbia and Montenegro twelve days later, as part of the preparation for the season's final Euro 2004 qualifier against Slovakia, Sven will be grasping the opportunity to play his strongest side, but will also look to give as many players as possible a run out.
"The team will be as strong as possible, we are only allowed to make five changes but I will ask to do more if necessary, but it's not like the Australia game," he added. "It's preparation for the Slovakia game."
Sven is also hopefully that Everton striker Wayne Rooney will be available for the qualifier despite missing out on the trip to the Southern Hemisphere with a knee injury.
"It should have been very good to have him, but he's injured and that's it," he added.
"Hopefully he can play against Yugoslavia.
"How he played against Turkey was fantastic to see a 17-year-old playing like that. I think he will be ready for Slovakia and maybe Yugoslavia."
Liverpool striker Michael Owen is also very aware of how valuable this fixture and the game against Serbia is in our preparations for Slovakia, adding: "We have only got two games so they are very important.
"If we could get three points against Slovakia it would put us in a nice position in the group."
And skipper David Beckham will also be out to impress on Thursday in what will be his final England game this term. Suspension has ruled him out of the Slovakia match, and though he was keen on joining up with the team for this week and for the Serbia game, Sven has decided not to play him in Leicester and allow Becks an extended summer holiday.
"I would rather have been playing, it's going to be disappointing leaving the lads on Friday, but it's important I do get a break." said Beckham.
"People have already said I'm working all summer doing stuff for myself which I'm not, I'm doing seven or eight days and the rest is holiday, that's four weeks which is almost unheard of."
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