Football: Conlon pays the penalty

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BARRY CONLON, the Republic of Ireland Under-21 striker, has been banned from the next three European Championship matches by Uefa, European football's governing body.

It is a blow for the Irish Under-21 side's manager, Ian Evans,but it gives the uncapped Aston Villa youngster Alan Lee the chance to make an impact in the side which will face Malta in Arklow this afternoon.

Conlon, the former Queen's Park Rangers and Manchester City forward currently with Southend United, was sent off during the 2-2 draw with Croatia last month. Uefa imposed the three-match punishment after adjudging his red- card offence "an act of violence against an opponent".

His dismissal came after an off-the-ball clash with a Croatian defender and, although Conlon claimed he merely pushed his opponent away, there is unlikely to be an appeal. "Every player should know that if you raise your hands to an opponent you are in trouble," Evans said.

Evans has picked Lee for the main striker's job ahead of Middlesbrough's Stephen Baker, who came on as substitute against Croatia and scored Ireland's second goal.

Baker will be on the bench alongside Leeds United's highly rated 18-year- old midfielder, Stephen McPhail, who is involved with the Irish Under- 21 squad for the first time.

The St Patrick's Athletic defender, Colin Hawkins, also returns to replace Cork City's Derek Coughlan.

The Wales Under-21 side's manager, Tom Walley, plans to rest West Bromwich's Danny Gabbidon against Belarus in Barry tonight, move Swansea's Jason Price from full-back to central defence and bring in Southampton's Andrew Williams at right-back as the only changes from the team that drew in Denmark.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND UNDER-21 (v Malta, Arklow, today): O'Reilly (West Ham); Boxall (Brentford), Ryan (Millwall), Morgan (St Patrick's), Hawkins (St Patrick's), Worrell (Blackburn), Inman (Peterborough), Clare (Grimsby), Lee (Aston Villa), Mahon (Tranmere), Kilbane (West Bromwich).

WALES UNDER-21 (v Belarus, Barry, today): Probable: Anthony Williams (Blackburn), Andrew Williams (Southampton), Price (Swansea), Green (Wolves), Roberts (Liverpool), Danny Williams (Liverpool), Davies (Peterborough), Jones (Leeds), Llewellyn (Norwich), Thomas (Blackburn), Haworth (Wigan).