Football: Hendry and Elliott add to Brown's woes

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The Independent Online
CRAIG BROWN, the Scotland manager, had more to cope with yesterday than the retirement from international football of his goalkeeper, Jim Leighton.

Scotand's captain, Colin Hendry, arrived in Aberdeen following a brief trip to Blackburn with a heavy cold, while Matt Elliott was 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 his squad. "We have one or two additional problems so I phoned Jim Jefferies [the 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, however, 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, has made 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 after a promising opening to the qualifying tournament.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND (European Championship qualifier v Malta, Lansdowne Road, 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).