England coach is up for the Turkish test...
"This is the really big one, " admitted Sven today as he faced the media for the last time before the real action begins at the Stadium of Light tomorrow night...
After training yesterday morning Sven gave the players a couple of hours off. While many of the squad headed out for a round of golf or to do a little shopping, Sven and Tord went for a jog in the rolling English countryside that surrounds the England team base here in Northumbria.
Sven took the lead, while Tord ambled a few steps behind. Both were caught in their own thoughts ahead of what is England's biggest match since we reached the last eight of the World Cup Finals.
"This is the really big one," admitted Sven today as he faced the media for the last time before the real action begins at the Stadium of Light tomorrow night. Though he is far from fearful of the threat posed by the World Cup Semi-Finalists and Group 7's current leaders, the England coach is full of respect for their talent.
"They have many good footballers playing at big clubs all over Europe," Sven reflected. He has been hugely impressed by Tugay this season and has watched the Inter Milan duo Emre and Okan regularly as he keeps up to date with Italian football on Saturday nights.
"Turkey are one of the countries that have made the biggest progress in world football," he says of their dramatic rise from a mediocre footballing nation to one of the most dangerous teams around.
Sven knows that his team will have to be at their best for the 'big one' and revealed that he was happy with the winning build-up that the Three Lions achieved courtesy of Saturday's 2-0 defeat of Liechtenstein.
"It was a professional performance. We got the job done," he reflected.
"I know that we can play better...so lets do that tomorrow."
While he's aware of Turkey's strengths, in particular their midfield quartet, you get the feeling that our manager wouldn't swap his squad for any others in the world.
"The squad is fantastic," he beamed. "They are good footballers and good human beings."
One local journalist took the opportunity to inform Sven that there hasn't yet been a home win at the Stadium of Light.
"I am sure that the Sunderland crowd will be helping us tomorrow night," was his response. "The last time we played [in the North-East against Albania at St James' Park], it was a fantastic night. I expect the same as that.
"I think we can win and am very positive."
This afternoon was the Three Lions last full training session in the grounds of the hotel at Slaley Hall before the match and Sven received a boost as all 22 players were involved.
From Daniel Freedman at the England Team Base in Slaley Hall.