Football: Evans pleads Babb's innocence

Liverpool's manager, Roy Evans, yesterday defended his Republic of Ireland defender Phil Babb, insisting he did not go missing over the weekend. Babb had been called up by the Republic manager, Mick McCarthy, as a late replacement for tonight's World Cup qualifier in Romania, but efforts to contact him failed.

"He was given the weekend off by us after being left out of Ireland's original squad. Is he supposed to sit at home 24 hours a day waiting for the Irish FA to ring?" Evans said.

The news will come as another embarrassment to McCarthy who knows the game in Buch- arest could make or break him as an international manager. After dropping a point at home to Iceland and a humiliating defeat, 3- 2 in Macedonia, something special is required to revive Irish hopes of qualification.

McCarthy refused to announce his team until today but did reveal that his plan will be boldly to attack Romania despite the home team's 100 per cent record in Group Eight - five straight wins without conceding a goal.

"This was always going to be our most demanding game. Romania are a good side but we will use three attacking players against them whenever we can."

The pressure building up on McCarthy was obvious yesterday when he replied to a question on his own future with an obscene eight letter word. "If you can print that then do so. I am sick and tired of being asked that question - by Irishman, Englishmen, Romanians, the lot."

McCarthy will be forced to make changes with Jason McAteer and Alan McLoughlin already out suspended. There could also be a return from the 3-5-2 to the 4-4-2 system, with Gary Kelly given a man- marking role to curb Romania's play-maker, Gheorghe Hagi. Watford's David Connolly, out for much of the season with a hamstring injury, looks set to partner Tony Cascarino up front.

Meanwhile Barcelona's Gica Popescu, who has already scored eight goals in the qualifiers, appears to be winning his battle to recover from a thigh injury and start the match for Romania.

Group Eight

P W D L F A Pts

Romania 5 5 0 0 19 0 15

Macedonia 6 3 1 2 18 10 10

Rep of Ireland 4 2 1 1 10 3 7

Lithuania 4 2 0 2 4 5 6

Iceland 4 0 2 2 1 7 2

Liechtenstein 5 0 0 5 2 29 0

Remaining fixtures: Today: Liechtenstein v Lithuania; Romania v Republic of Ireland. 21 May: Republic of Ireland v Liechtenstein. 7 June: Macedonia v Iceland. 11 June: Iceland v Lithuania. 19 Aug: Liechtenstein v Iceland. 20 Aug: Rep of Ireland v Lithuania; Romania v Macedonia. 6 Sept: Iceland v Rep of Ireland; Liechtenstein v Romania; Lithuania v Macedonia. 10 Sept: Romania v Iceland; Lithuania v Rep of Ireland. 11 Oct: Iceland v Liechtenstein; Rep of Ireland v Romania; Macedonia v Lithuania.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk