Football: FA stays firm over Barmby

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The Independent Online
THE Football Association will not back down over Nick Barmby's inclusion in the England squad for the World Youth Championship in Australia - even though it could mean the Tottenham striker missing the FA Cup sixth round.

Spurs will be reluctant to lose him for what could amount to a critical three weeks, but the FA wants to give England every chance in the Melbourne tournament between 5 and 20 March.

'Normal Fifa rules apply regarding the release of players,' Mike Wilmore, the FA spokesman, said. The FA wrote to clubs at the end of last year spelling out selection criteria, 'but we have told clubs that we will limit selection to one player in the first team. Barmby will be expected to go'.

Sheffield Wednesday's Chris Bart-Williams, whose club could be involved in FA Cup and Coca- Cola Cup semi-finals, Jamie Pollock (Middlesbrough) and Julian Joachim (Leicester) are other first-team regulars in the squad.

Terry Cooper, the Birmingham City manager, has played down reports that Graeme Souness is planning a pounds 2m takeover offer for the First Division club now in the hands of the Receiver. 'It's news to me,' Cooper said. 'Graeme is a friend and I'm sure he'd have mentioned something if he was involved. I'd have thought he's got enough on his plate at Anfield.'

Liverpool's plight was due for discussion at a board meeting today, but it has been called off because some members were unavailable. Their next game is at Arsenal on Sunday.