FOOTBALL: EURO 2000: KEEP IT COOL AND WE CAN RULE SAYS KEEGAN.
England had three players dismissed in the qualifying campaign - Paul Ince, Paul Scholes and David Batty - as well as David Beckham's infamous red card against Argentina in the last World Cup. Now Keegan has told his players not to step out of lineagain.
And with Scholes, Ince and Dennis Wise in mind Keegan explained: "The last thing I always say to them is 'make sure we keep eleven players on the pitch and don't do anything silly'. "They know we can't afford to have another player sent off.
The players I've got in the squad have guts, character and are winners - and if you've got guys like that the chances are they're likely to be volatile because that is how itgoes with those characteristics. "I'm not going to take their fire away, but I do want to keep eleven players on the pitch.
That's a major importance in any game - not least a Championship match. "With people like Scholes, Ince and Wisey they've been picked because they're a certain type of player and I don't want to detract from the way they play. "But players know if they go to ground to make a tackle, orcome in from the back or the side, you're liable to get a yellow card. "Do it twice and you're off, as was proved against Sweden when Scholes went and in Warsaw when Batty got a red card - and it's very difficult when you lose a man. "It's hard work and we've found that out the hard way - so we don't want it happening during Euro 2000."
With England's opening clash with Portugal so close,the full impact of leading England into a major event has finally hit Keegan. "Everyone has different ideas as to who is best qualified for this job, but I know that no-one can have the grounding to do it,'' he said. "I think you have to fly by the seat of your pants because it asks different questions of you. You don't realise how big it is until you get to a big tournament."
Despite treading unchartered territory Keegan believs his players are in perfect shape - and worth a bet. "We're a decent price and I guess for the fans abroad you'd get better odds than 9 or 10-1. English fans don't want to bet on France or Holland, they want England to win. "They want to have the bet, sit back and watch TV and feel the team they've backed has got a chance. My opinion hasn't changed on that - I think we've a chance."