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Aces or jokers in the England pack.

Byline: By John Gibson

The dreaded game of cards is upon us and, like a Vegas gambler down on his luck and his shoe leather, the next hand dealt could be critical.

Such is the thin line to be negotiated that Croatia, severely punished against Switzerland, are leaving out their offenders this evening to protect them for a final push when England come up.

A game sacrificed for another more important one ahead.

But England can't afford such risks of sacrificing three points and must be physically committed against the Swiss because anything less than victory will see us dancing to the death rattle.

Wearing the yellow jersey of race leader towards a ban are Paul Scholes, Frank Lampard and David James. One more indiscretion in the heat of passion and, as every Lothario knows, that's it. Time for withdrawal.

"Of course it is a concern," admitted manager Sven-Goran Eriksson, "but I don't want players to dwell upon what might or might not happen. Crossing the road is also a concern. Life is dangerous."

It is indeed. Ask another England threesome ( David Beckham, Emile Heskey and Steven Gerrard, involved in the three key moments that turned the tide against England.

Or Eriksson himself who knows those who are nationalistic don't appreciate Johnny Foreigner being in charge of the lions and bulldogs.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 17, 2004
Words:221
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