England coach Tord Grip believes that Wednesday night's crucial encounter...
England coach Tord Grip believes that Wednesday night's crucial encounter with Turkey will be won and lost in the middle of the park...
After the 2-0 defeat of Liechtenstein, Tord is well aware that the Three Lions will need to step up a gear when they meet their Group Seven rivals at the Stadium of Light.
"Compared to Liechtenstein, Turkey will be another game entirely," he reflects as he takes a breather after Monday's two-hour training session.
"On Saturday, Liechtenstein were content to sit back for much of the game and wait to hit us on the break or maybe from a set-piece. Against Turkey, we will have to defend very well because they are an attacking team.
"From the midfield to the attack, they have six very good players and the full backs are also very offensive.
"I would say the midfield is the strongest area of their team because they can do almost everything. They can score goals from there and they are also quick and can dribble. They like to pass the ball very quickly with short balls to each other and quick one-twos.
"That means that we have to be very compact and concentrated in our own midfield to try to stop them building up their attacking play.
"But it's not just about the midfield alone. We'll need the whole team to help us. It's important that we work hard right from the front not only because when the strikers defend it sets a good tone for the whole team, but also because the Turkish full-backs start so much of their attacking play."
However, Tord is in doubt that England are fully prepared for the challenge that lies ahead.
"Sven has seen the tape of Turkey's recent friendly game against Italy," he reveals.
"They outplayed Italy in the first half in Italy so that shows you that they are a good team. All the players but one from that game are included in their squad for this game so we know what to expect.
"Turkey are a good side - they came third in the World Cup, we don't need to tell the players that.
Looking back to Saturday, Tord admits that there were things England could have done better but, on the whole, views it as a positive display.
"In general, we have played well in our big away games since Sven and I have been with England," he reflects.
"We have played with discipline and have generally restricted the opposition from creating too many goal chances.
"That was the case again on Saturday apart from in the last five minutes when we were a little casual at the back. They had a couple of free-kicks and intercepted a couple of our passes which were a bit sloppy so they had a one or two good chances and could have scored.
"But that was the only disappointment for me. Otherwise I think the players did a very professional job.
"Our best period was at the beginning of the second half. We started it strongly. We showed a bit more imagination and created three very good chances from which we could have scored at least one goal before we eventually did from David Beckham's free-kick."
And now, two days before England's biggest match since the World Cup Quarter Final against Brazil, how is Tord himself feeling?
"I think it's good to be little bit nervous before a game," he admits.
"In international football you are away from the action for so much of the time that it's good when it comes around again and the adrenaline starts pumping.
"The training has been good and there is an excellent spirit amongst the players. I am absolutely looking forward to the game and I feel optimistic."
From Daniel Freedman at the England Team Base in Slaley Hall.