August 18th, 2004, 05:23 AM
The International Excuse Trap
Let's hope Benitez doesn't fall into the excuse trap again, when he assesses his squad on Friday. Then again, he may have legitmate reason to complain as some of the friendlies are likely to more meaningful as they are crucial prep. games for 2006 qualification. The nature of the diabolical off and pre season has left at the mercy of injuries.
We have Hyypia playing in a World Cup qualifier in Bucharest. (All of a sudden the much maligned Hyypia's importance to the back four has grown significantly. With Fowler and Anelka coming at us, we need a rock solid back four on Saturday. For me, Traore can't be ready quick enough.)
Baros in Prague for a match against Greece, expect him to score, expect the Greeks to give him a hard time. Finnan is in Dublin, and will likely play. We have Cisse facing the Bosnians, he is likely to start. Let's hope he finishes. Ditto Gerrard up in Newcastle against the Ukrainians. Henchoz is in Switerland, though it seems he's not favoured as a first team choice. Hamann, I believe, was dropped from the Germman squad, no he's probably be fit and available for selection. I am not sure Biscan has made the Croatian squad against Israel, though at least have options, if Gerrard goes down tonight.
I am not sure if Alonso is playing for Spain tonight, but I will be looking at interest at their game against the Tintos of Venezuela.