Euro 96 fear for McLaren

Football
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The Independent Online
Alan McLaren, one of Scotland's first-choice defenders, may miss this summer's European Championship. Arriving in Copenhagen for tomorrow's friendly against Denmark, the Scotland manager, Craig Brown, said that the Rangers player, who is due to have knee surgery on 20 May, has only a 70 per cent chance of being fit for the finals.

Brown expects to use 16 of his 17 remaining players against the European champions in the Parken Stadium. Jim Leighton and Andy Goram will each play a half in goal, with only the third keeper, Bryan Gunn, inactive. Meanwhile, Aberdeen's Scott Booth, hailed by Brown as the team's principal striker during qualifying, has suffered a setback to his hopes of making the squad for Euro 96. A fresh injury, to his groin, means that Booth drops down to the bench for tonight's B international at Nykoebing Falster.

The Wales manager, Bobby Gould, has agreed to play ball with Ian Rush, even though it could damage the start of their World Cup qualifying campaign. Rush has asked not to be considered for the opening tie in San Marino in June, while he tries to find himself a new club.

That request, which Gould has granted, fuels speculation that the pair have fallen out and that the 34-year-old striker, who has won a free transfer from Liverpool at the end of the season, is no longer interested in playing for his country.

"It's a common-sense decision for me to go along with it. There is no animosity between us, " said Gould, as he prepared for tomorrow's friendly against Switzerland in Lugano. Mark Hughes, Neville Southall, Ryan Giggs and Dean Saunders are also missing. Winning their first caps are Birmingham's Andy Legg and Tranmere goalkeeper Danny Coyne. Vinnie Jones is recalled after suspension.

Manchester City's central defender Alan Kernaghan received a late call- up to the Republic of Ireland squad for their friendly against the Czech Republic. Mick McCarthy, whose party had already been severely depleted by injuries, drafted in Kernaghan after Portsmouth's Alan McLoughlin failed to recover from a hip injury.

The Leicester midfielder Neil Lennon has been forced to pull out of Northern Ireland's friendly against Sweden in Belfast because of a groin strain, but manager Bryan Hamilton has called up St Johnstone's 18-year-old defender Danny Griffin after failing to recruit Swindon's Kevin Horlock because of his club commitments. West Ham's Michael Hughes is also doubtful for the match. He has not yet made the trip to Belfast as he is about to become a father for the first time.

WALES (v Switzerland, Lugano, tomorrow): Coyne (Tranmere); Robinson (Charlton), Symons (Man City), Bowen (Norwich), Coleman (Blackburn), Legg (Birmingham), Jones (Wimbledon), Horne (Everton, capt), Pemberton (Sheff Wed), Hartson (Arsenal), Taylor (Sheff Utd). Substitutes: Marriott (Wrexham), Edwards (Swansea), Phillips (Wrexham), Speed (Leeds), Goss (Norwich), Davies (Man Utd), Savage (Crewe).

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