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Football: `Auld enemies' could meet on regular basis

SCOTLAND, who face England in the Euro 2000 play-offs next month, could renew their rivalry with the `auld enemy' on an annual basis if a new plan comes to fruition.

National football associations throughout Europe have been asked to fill in a questionnaire compiled by Uefa's general secretary, Gerhard Aigner, which includes a proposal for a Nations Cup. The Scotland manager, Craig Brown, welcomed the idea, as it could mean the resurrection of a British championship.

Brown said: "The point about the possible new competition is that the matches would be played on a regional basis and there are no more closely- knit countries than the four from the United Kingdom. I am all in favour of the idea because it would put the Scotland-England fixture officially back on the roster.

"We wouldn't be playing any more internationals in a year than we do now because the friendlies would be eliminated."

Michael Owen will not be risked in Liverpool's Premiership game at home to Bradford City tonight, and he now has just one match, Saturday's game with Derby, to prove his fitness to England's coach, Kevin Keegan, before he names his squad to face Scotland in the Euro 2000 play-offs.

Owen's Anfield strike partner, Robbie Fowler, is also a big England doubt after his recent ankle operation.