Croatia match 'still on'



The Association has rejected a call from Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional ers' Association, for England's friendly with Croatia next month to be postponed.

Taylor said it would be "extremely insensitive" to stage the match at Wembley on 6 September against a backdrop of continuing conflict in the Balkans.

The talented Croats, expected to qualify for next summer's European Championship finals, will provide a stern test for Terry Venables' side. However, with British troops forming part of the United Nations attachment in the former Yugoslavia and television footage depicting the plight of refugees on all sides of the conflict, Taylor suggested it was inappropriate for England to play the Croats.

"The timing of this is very unfortunate indeed," said Taylor, speaking on BBC Radio Five Live. "Thousands of young men, women and children are dying out there - and I'm surprised that the Croatians are sending a team to play football when the situation is as it is. To be indifferent to the situation there and to think of carrying on and playing sport as normal in these circumstances is extremely insensitive."

However, the FA spokesman, Mike Parry, insisted the match would take place. "We have taken advice from the Foreign Office and they have told us that at this stage there are no problems in playing the match," he said.

The Everton manager, Joe Royle, suffered a double setback on the eve of the Premiership season yesterday: Oldham have rejected the club's pounds 1.3m offer for the England Under-21 goalkeeper, Paul Gerrard, and Uefa confirmed there will be no extension of the European Cup-Winners' Cup deadline to register players.

Everton - with the FA's support - had pressed the European governing body for leeway in order to register Andrei Kanchelskis, whose transfer from Manchester United remains deadlocked.

However, a Uefa spokesman said: "The deadline of midnight has to be respected and there can be no exceptions."

The next deadline is 15 January, and any players registered then will be available for the quarter-finals onwards.

Andrea Silenzi will miss Nottingham Forest's opening Premiership game against Southampton at The Dell on Saturday. The pounds 1.8m signing from Torino has a slight calf injury.

David Pleat has rebuffed Leeds' efforts to sign Chris Waddle. The Sheffield Wednesday manager said: "I have had several clubs asking about Chris's situation, and all have been told there is no possibility of anyone leaving [Hillsborough] in the forseeable future."

More football, page 22

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