Football: Ankle injury rules out Parlour

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The Independent Online
SIX MONTHS after he was first called into the England squad, Ray Parlour's international career remains a matter of potential rather than performance, writes Glenn Moore.

Having missed out on a chance to claim a World Cup place through injury last spring he yesterday withdrew from the European Championship double- header against Bulgaria at Wembley tomorrow and in Luxembourg on Wednesday.

Parlour has been troubled by an ankle injury for some weeks and it became obvious yesterday that, even if he recovered he would not gain match fitness in time. Given the length of his lay-off it would appear he must now make some appearance in Arsenal's Premiership match against Southampton next Saturday if he is to figure in the club's Champions' League match with Dynamo Kiev on 21 October.

More worrying for Glenn Hoddle is that Parlour's Arsenal team-mate, Tony Adams, and Tottenham's Darren Anderton, may also miss tomorrow's match.

Neither trained yesterday and are regarded as doubtful. Adams has back and ankle injuries while Anderton has a bruised thigh muscle. The other previously injured players, Teddy Sheringham, Ian Wright and Martin Keown, were all involved in yesterday's session at Bisham Abbey.

Paul Ince, who is definitely out of tomorrow's game, is still waiting to hear if his one-match ban for being dismissed in Sweden last month is to be extended. Uefa, European football's governing body, yesterday delayed a verdict on the report by the game's referee, Pierluigi Collina, which detailed Ince's abuse following the sending-off. Should Ince be reprieved he is likely to travel with the squad to Luxembourg on Monday but England are likely to be satisfied if the automatic suspension, which rules him out for tomorrow, is merely increased to cover Wednesday's match.

The Scotland coach, Craig Brown, has said he will delay naming his team to face Estonia until the last minute.

"I don't really want to give Estonia an advantage," Brown said. "We are close to confirming the side and I will speak to the players shortly.

"Estonia are showing an improvement as their draw against Bosnia in Sarajevo proves. But we are the seeded team and the home team, and it is imperative that we take six points."

Scotland will complete their preparations for the Estonia game this morning when Brown leads the squad in a training session at Almondvale Stadium, Livingston.