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   20 May, 2002 | 1600 IST


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Sven-Goran Eriksson believes England captain David Beckham will be fit for their World Cup opener against Sweden, but is dreading suffering any more injuries.

Eriksson, who lost midfielder Steven Gerrard and right-back Gary Neville before the finals, was upbeat about the skipper on Sunday as he prepared his squad for Tuesday's friendly with co- hosts South Korea.

"Beckham's condition is rather good," the Swede told reporters. "Of course, we cannot be sure, but all the medical staff are very positive that he will be ready for Sweden.

"It may have been a month or so since he got injured, but I'm sure he won't have forgotten how to play football in that time."

Beckham with Ericksson England take on Eriksson's home country in group F on June 2 at Saitama, with the Manchester United midfielder on course for a return from a broken bone in his foot.

Before then, Eriksson will also know the availibility of Newcastle United midfielder Kieron Dyer, who has been given two more days to prove his fitness.

Dyer, 23, who missed 10 months last year through injury, hurt his knee after a reckless challenge from Moroccan defender Tahar El-Khalej while playing for his premier league club Newcastle against Southampton.


He joined England's pre-World Cup camp in Dubai on Friday and flew with the team to Korea on Saturday.

Eriksson said Dyer would see a specialist on Sunday and everything possible would be done before he named his final squad of 23 on Tuesday.

Dyer said if he were not 100 percent fit he would return home.

"If I'm not 100 per cent I'm not going to kid myself and I'm going to be completely honest and tell the physios and England manager because they can't be carrying any players in the World Cup," he said.

"On Wednesday they gave me 10 days to two weeks until I'll be playing again so hopefully that's a good sign and that comes true."

England Football Association spokesman Paul Newman told BBC radio that England also had injury concerns over defender Martin Keown (foot) and striker Robbie Fowler (hip).


Dyer and Beckham are both following separate fitness programmes at England's camp on Cheju island at Seogwipo, which will host the friendly against the South Koreans.

"I'm looking forward to the game on Tuesday," said Eriksson, whose men pummelled Paraguay 4-0 last month at Anfield and who also take on Cameroon in their final friendly at Kobe, Japan on May 26.

"Having played Paraguay, a South American team, last time and with Cameroon, an African team, coming up soon, the chance to play an Asian team means we have covered all the eventualities that might occur.

"I want to play some good football and I'd like to avoid injuries, of course. That is perhaps the most important thing at this stage."

Further ahead, England face group F rivals Sweden, tournament favourites Argentina and Nigeria when the finals get underway for Eriksson's men in Japan.

One advantage, he hopes, will be the pleasant island setting on Seogwipo for England's pre-tournament preparations.

"It's a beautiful place to be," said the Swede. "It's close to Japan - one week here is perfect."

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