England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson has all but ruled out Gareth Southgate's chances of making Euro 2004.
The Middlesbrough defender has been sidelined since damaging knee ligaments in training in April although last month he said he was confident of recovering in time for the tournament and revealed Eriksson had left the door open for him.
Asked whether Southgate will be fit for Euro 2004, Eriksson said: "I doubt it. He can't start practising until June which makes it difficult for him to get match-fit."
Meanwhile, Eriksson revealed he will employ a formation designed to accommodate England's best four midfielders, even if it means using Steven Gerrard on the left. The Liverpool star has been his side's driving force this season, playing in
his favoured central role.
Eriksson continued: "Gerrard could play anywhere in midfield. He would like to play in central midfield, where he plays for Liverpool, but in the friendlies against Japan and Iceland (on June 1 and June 5) I will probably use him on the left, in a diamond system. I will use him on the left and David Beckham on the right. If we play a straight four-four-two it is not good for Gerrard (to play on the left) but if we use the diamond formation can play there. If we start like that, we can play our best four midfielders. "
Eriksson also revealed there would be no surprises in his squad, to be named on Monday, if there are no new injury worries from today's Premiership programme.
Filed by Mark O'Neill-Cummins