Sven's right hand man on Joe Cole, Jon Woodgate and Paul Scholes
Ahead of tonight's big game, Sven's right hand man gives TheFA.com's Daniel Freedman the low-down on Joe Cole, Paul Scholes and Jonathan Woodgate
Tord Grip will be in the dug-out for tonight's crucial Euro Qualifier with Macedonia but he admits that one of the English players he is most excited about will not be on the pitch.
Joe Cole has been with the Under-21s this week and, having not made the Senior squad this time around, his response has been exemplary, turning in two excellent performances to inspire David Platt's side to victories over Slovakia and Macedonia.
Tord, who will be hoping that the Seniors can follow the Under-21s in bagging all six points from the first two games, makes no attempt to hide the fact that he had been impressed by what Cole has done over the last week.
"Joe Cole played has played very well, particularly against Slovakia," he explains, taking a moment to relax ahead of the big game in one of the comfortable leather armchairs at the England team base in Southampton.
"I think maybe people should talk about what he can do, not what he can't.
"He is skilful and quick too. When he gets the ball and goes onto turbo it is very difficult for defenders to stay with him."
Perhaps one of the reasons Joe is not in the England team right now is the excellence of Paul Scholes. Tord is an admirer of the Manchester United man and believes he was a pivotal figure in helping the Three Lions to victory in Slovakia on Saturday. His second half switch into the centre turned the game on his head and Tord is convinced that is his best position.
"In the second half in Slovakia Paul Scholes was very important," he says. "We played with a diamond shape in midfield and brought him inside. Of course it's up to Sven but I think that we get the best out of him when he plays in the centre. Everyone knows about his shooting but he is also a bit of a playmaker.
"In all the World Cup games he played excellently in every first half but then, for whatever reason, maybe it was tiredness or the heat, he struggled a little in the second half. I remember the Swedish coaches said to me after our game against them that Paul had been outstanding in the first 35 minutes and they felt that, if he had played like that for the whole 90 minutes, they would not have stood a chance."
Meanwhile, at the back Sven and Tord face a selection dilemma with Sol Campbell now fit again after Gareth Southgate and Jonathan Woodgate held the fort impressively on Saturday. The pair got stronger as the game went on and Tord is impressed by what he saw of Woodgate in his first full game under Sven.
"Jonathan Woodgate did very well indeed," he says. "It was a very big game for him to play in and he was maybe a bit cautious at first but he got stronger and stronger as the game went on.
"He is a very clean player who tackles accurately, does not give the ball away and rarely gets booked."
Tord also reveals the reason that the Leeds man got the nod ahead of Middlesbrough's in-form centre half Ugo Ehiogu, explaining: "Although we like to pick players who are playing well together at club level - and there is no doubt that Ugo and Gareth are doing well for Middlebrough - we just felt that Woodgate was maybe a little quicker and that was something we needed against a player like Nemeth."
Tord is now finalising England's game plan with Sven and the rest of the coaches as they prepare to face what he describes as a 'compact' Macedonia side.
"I'm looking forward to it," he says with the glimmer on anticipation in his eye.
"The weather is better today and we have a lovely stadium and pitch for the game. Now all we need is a win!"
From Daniel Freedman in Southampton
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