Football: Hoddle accused by Hodgson of `ignoring' Blackburn players

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The Independent Online
Following Chris Sutton's refusal to turn out for the England B team, his manager at Blackburn Rovers, Roy Hodgson, has complained that the England coach, Glenn Hoddle, is ignoring his players.

Hodgson is upset about the Sutton incident, and also the omission of Tim Sherwood and Stuart Ripley. "It was a sad day for Blackburn Rovers when the teams were selected," Hodgson said. "Speaking as their boss, all three players have done enough to merit a look-in.

"I don't think we can do anymore than we have done. We have never been outside the top three and those players have been rated by others as men of the match along the way.

"It's a pity when teams in the lower reaches, who have not featured much in anybody's thoughts, are selected while ours are passed over. I am very disappointed for the players and also for ourselves that our good work has gone unnoticed.

"The lads are all dejected. They all wanted to play for England and go on to appear in the World Cup finals. They are ambitious. It goes without saying that they are extremely sad and disappointed. But like myself they realise it is one man's opinion and he has named his 40-odd players.

"I have been a national manager with Switzerland and know it is a matter of opinion. Hoddle's is that they're not sufficiently good enough for him."

Hodgson feels Sutton's international career is over under Hoddle after the striker spoke to the England manager, but there may yet be time for the others. Sherwood has been outstanding this season in a more attacking midfield role, while Ripley was an England substitute in the first international of the season.

Hodgson said: "We believe the door is shut on Sutton. Hoddle has made it clear he won't be considered again, but we have no information on where Sherwood and Ripley stand."

Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, has withdrawn defender Martin Keown from the England squad to play Chile at Wembley on Wednesday.

Keown suffered a hamstring injury against Coventry on 13 December which has failed to respond to treatment.

Although the centre-back is still hopeful of returning to Arsenal's side to play Crystal Palace in the FA Cup next weekend, Wenger telephoned Hoddle at lunchtime yesterday to tell him that Keown would have to miss the friendly international.

Tottenham Hotspur have failed in their bid to have midfielder Stephen Clemence's controversial FA Cup dismissal wiped out.

Clemence was sent off during Spurs' 3-1 fourth-round replay defeat at Barnsley on Wednesday night, after the referee Gerald Ashby issued a second yellow card for a dive in the opposition penalty area.

Spurs disputed the decision and yesterday appealed against it to the Football Association, but they have turned it down.

Work started yesterday on the "operations centre" at Liverpool's new pounds 13m Soccer Academy. The site in Kirkby will be opened in October and the main building will take 42 weeks to complete.

Howard Wilkinson, the FA technical director, attended a ceremony to mark the official first day of building, along with new England squad member Michael Owen.