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Football: THROWN TO THE LIONS; ENGLAND v GERMANY.

RUDI VOLLER last night pleaded with his Germany players to hand him the best memento of all from the last game to be played at Wembley - three points.

Rookie coach Voller knows his souvenir will be more valuable than the seat from the Royal Box which England boss Kevin Keegan joked about taking after today's World Cup spectacular.

The former German international goal hero would much rather be sitting on top of Group Nine than planking his backside on an ancient piece of wood from the home of English football.

But Voller, who never graced the Wembley turf for his country, realises just how difficult it is going to be for his players to tame Keegan's lions and hand him his precious present.

He said: "I've heard that Kevin will be in the Royal Box with a screwdriver trying to take home one of the seats.

"I'm not interested in that kind of thing - I just want to take away the points.

"We know the greeting we get will be hostile - when has it been anything else? We know precisely what to expect and have the players to cope with such a situation. They won't be fazed by it one little bit.

"England and Germany games have always been tight down the years and I'm sure this one will be no different.

"I think the result will be decided on small details - who scores first, which side is more jittery and who copes best with the special Wembley atmosphere.

"A certain sporting rivalry is necessary for the teams, spectators and managers. That's what gives these games that extra edge.

"What I can certainly tell you about us is that we will not hide. We will go out there to try and make a statement.

"We will approach the match with an offensive spirit. I never played at Wembley because I was always injured when it came to playing England.

"That's why it will be a special honour for me to lead the team out. We are all aware of the significance of the occasion but there is no room for sentiment. All that matters is the three points."

It emerged that the Germans have already enlisted the services of their own spy to give them the lowdown on the England squad.

Spurs midfielder Steffen Freund joined Voller and his coaching staff for dinner on Thursday to pass on information he has gleaned from his two years in the Premiership.

Voller said: "Steffen had a pint with us. We had a very good chat but what he said will remain private."

He remained coy about his line-up but has been boosted by the return to fitness of the midfield trio of Mehmet Scholl, Sebastian Deisler and Carsten Ramelow, all of whom should play.

The only major doubt is towering striker Carsten Jancker, who has yet to recover from a persistent toe injury.

Yet the fact that Jancker is doubtful is a blow to England, given the 6ft 6in striker's appalling performance at Euro 2000.

His place looks likely to be taken by Oliver Bierhoff, the two-goal hero of Germany's Euro 96 triumph over the Czech Republic at Wembley.

Continuing the mind games, Voller offered a veiled warning to Keegan over risking a less than 100 per cent David Beckham in a game of such magnitude.

He said: "It's too early to say whether Bierhoff will play and we have to see how things develop in the next 24 hours.

"But the match is only for players who can last 90 minutes. You cannot risk players who are not fully fit.

"Only players who are self-assertive and able to stand up for themselves will deserve to be on the pitch for this game.

"I have my line-up in my head and I've never been one for secrecy. Most of the players know who is playing but we will finalise the team in a meeting before the match. The players know what to do."

One of the players in Voller's squad, defender Jens Nowotny, admitted for the first time yesterday that he is desperate to play for Arsenal

The Gunners have been tracking the towering Bayer Leverkusen centre-back for months as a long-term replacement for Tony Adams.

It was thought the deal was dead when Leverkusen put a pounds 25million price tag on his head, but the 26-year-old still has his sights set on a move to Highbury.

Nowotny has been training with the German squad at Arsenal's high-tech training complex over the past few days and revealed that the experience had finally made his mind up.

He said: "The option is still open. Arsenal's facilities are absolutely amazing. There are 10 to 15 pitches and it is every players' dream to train there, whatever the name of the club.

"Players are always interested in considering a change of club and I am no different but it would be a hard job for Arsenal and England to replace Tony.

"It will be just as hard as it was when Germany had to replace Lothar Matthaus when he retired from the international scene after Euro 2000."

Adams is now 33 and his future has been clouded by persistent injuries which have restricted his appearances in recent seasons.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has been scouring Europe for a replacement and will urge the board to do all they can to land Nowotny.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Marshall, Alan
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 7, 2000
Words:897
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