Football: Brown's pledge to McAllister

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THE Scotland coach, Craig Brown, has said that injured Gary McAllister will travel to the World Cup finals this summer as a non-playing captain.

Brown has asked the Coventry midfielder, whose cruciate ligament injury on Wednesday night ruled him out of the tournament, to join the Scots' 22-man squad at France '98.

Brown has also paved the way for his skipper's eventual return to international football by saying he wants the 33-year-old McAllister to lead the Scots to the European Championship finals in 2000.

"It is tragic that someone as good as Gary should never play in a World Cup finals," said Brown, "but he should not believe his international career is over. He could play a crucial role in the European Championship qualifying matches."

McAllister admitted he was still upset by the news that he would not be playing in the World Cup. "I have worked all my life for the chance to play in a game like the opening World Cup match against Brazil. It is a game anyone in the world would have wanted and now it has been snatched away from me."

Should Brown opt to replace McAllister with Craig Burley he will have found the international-class midfielder he needs, according to the Celtic coach, Wim Jansen. "I think he is international standard, he showed that when he did well against Liverpool in the Uefa Cup.

"I don't want to speak about the national coach's decision, but we know he has the quality to play central midfield at the highest level."

Burley's fitness is in doubt for tomorrow's Tennents Scottish Cup quarter- final meeting with Dundee United at Tannadice. Along with Jackie McNamara (knee), Burley has been rested from training this week to allow a calf problem valuable recovery time - but both are expected to play.