Football: Brown faces new selection problems

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The Independent Online
SCOTLAND'S MANAGER, Craig Brown, who has already suffered due to match postponements and the retirement from international football of goalkeeper Jim Leighton, had new problems to contend with yesterday.

His captain, Colin Hendry, arrived in Aberdeen following a brief trip to Blackburn with a heavy cold while Matt Elliott is nursing a slight back injury. Ally McCoist was also excused training as his young son, Mitchell, is ill in a Glasgow hospital.

With first-choice players such as Kevin Gallacher, Christian Dailly, John Collins and Paul Lambert all out of the Euro 2000 qualifier against the Faroe Isles in Aberdeen tomorrow, Brown is short of quality. One bonus is that Craig Burley is available again following a two-match ban that saw him miss the 0-0 draw against Lithuania and the 3-2 victory over Estonia.

Brown will decide today whether to call up the Hearts pair, the defender Paul Ritchie and the striker Jim Hamilton, to the pool. "We have one or two additional problems so I phoned Jim Jefferies (Hearts' manager) at lunchtime," he said. "If we get a negative response with Hendry, Elliott and McCoist then I will call up Ritchie and Hamilton." Burley looks certain to be in the starting line-up at the expense of either Billy McKinlay or Ian Durrant.

The Republic of Ireland's manager, Mick McCarthy, is forced to make three changes for the qualifier against Malta at Lansdowne Road, Dublin, tomorrow. Jeff Kenna and Gary Breen will replace the injured Denis Irwin and Phil Babb in defence while Niall Quinn returns from injury to take over from Keith O'Neill up front.

Blackburn's Kenna was a substitute in the second half of the Republic's 2-0 win over Croatia in Dublin last month when Coventry's Breen was also on the bench. Otherwise it is a case of continuity for the side after a promising opening to the qualifying tournament.

Manchester United's Roy Keane will again captain an Irish side which looks set to score a comfortable victory, although McCarthy warned: "Games like this only become easy if your attitude is right and you make them easy."

The Wales midfielder Robbie Savage yesterday came out strongly in support of Bobby Gould. Savage, more than most, could have been expected to join the anti-Gould clamour before Wales' 2-1 win in Denmark on Saturday.

The Leicester man was publicly censured by the national manager after the Paolo Maldini shirt-throwing incident on Sky TV and the argument was seen as evidence of a chasm between the coach and his players.

Savage said: "I'm really pleased we got the win for Bobby. After what happened last time I couldn't have complained if he hadn't picked me.

"He did though, and I'd like to think I played my part as did everyone, in ensuring we got the points. I was pleased afterwards when Bobby came round us all after the game to shake every players' hand and thank them for their efforts.

"I don't know whether it was because we had helped take the pressure off him, but he was clearly delighted with us."

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND (European Championship qualifier v Malta, Lansdowne Road, Dublin, tomorrow): Given (Newcastle), Kenna (Blackburn), Cunningham (Wimbledon), Breen (Coventry), Staunton (Liverpool), McAteer (Liverpool), Roy Keane (Manchester Utd), Kinsella (Charlton), Duff (Blackburn), Quinn (Sunderland), Robbie Keane (Wolves). Substitutes: To be named.