Neville fit and raring to go against Portugal

Martin Parry
BUHLERTAL, June 29, 2006 (AFP) – Gary Neville, a vital cog in the England team, declared himself fit on Thursday and desperate to play against Portugal in the quarter-finals.

The 31-year-old was put through his paces along with the rest of the England squad at their training base in southern Germany on Thursday and showed no signs of the calf injury that he feared would end his World Cup.

"I’m confident that my calf is fully fit. I’ve trained the last two days and have no problems with my calf. The manager will make his decision and whatever he decides I will go along with," said the Manchester United captain.

"I’m desperate to play in this match, as every other player in the squad is, but ultimately it comes down to the manager on whether he feels picking me is too much of a risk."

Neville won his 80th cap in England’s opening 1-0 victory over Paraguay but picked up the calf injury in training and has missed their last three games.

Coach Sven-Goran Eriksson considers Neville’s experience crucial to the England team and will be tempted to throw him on even if concerns remain that he is not yet fully match fit.