Football: Hendry to retire after Euro 2000

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The Independent Online
THE SCOTLAND defender Colin Hendry intends to retire from international football after the 2000 European Championship. The 33-year-old Rangers centre-back will miss the home qualifiers against Bosnia this Saturday and the Czech Republic a week on Wednesday as he recovers from an ankle injury.

Hendry said: "My aim is to go to Euro 2000 and then [retire] after that. I have 38 caps now and I would love to make 50 and enter the Hall of Fame.

"Then I will have two years left on my contract, and it's a crucial time because I must give myself every chance to keep playing. I've always done myself justice for Scotland, but staying on after that could be a bridge too far."

Hendry was 27 when he won his first cap, against Estonia in May 1993, but he became such a formidable figure that he went on to captain Scotland in the World Cup finals last year. A year after his debut he helped Blackburn to win the Premiership title. However, it was always his ambition to finish his career in his homeland - he was born in Keith - and he left Ewood Park last summer for Rangers. Hendry signed a four-year deal after a pounds 4m move, but his progress this season has been hampered by a series of injuries.

His Rangers team-mate, Barry Ferguson, could have played his last game at club and international level this season. The 21-year-old midfielder is suffering from a pelvic problem and he will now visit a specialist in London today.

While disappointed that Ferguson is ruled out, the Scotland manager, Craig Brown, is comforted by the fact that he has a strong midfield pool. Gary McAllister, who captained the side before missing the World Cup finals because of a serious knee injury, is back in the squad for the first time in 16 months.

Brown said: "It is frustrating for Barry and for Scotland that he is injured because he has been coming along well. Now it looks as though he may be out for the bulk of the rest of the season if not the whole of it.

"But at least we have good cover in midfield with the likes of McAllister, Paul Lambert, David Hopkin and Ian Durrant."

The Wimbledon goalkeeper Neil Sullivan is likely to retain his place, with the Leicester defender Matt Elliott replacing Hendry. The Everton striker Don Hutchison looks set to make his debut and partner Aberdeen's Eoin Jess up front.

Uefa, the governing body of European football, has rejected an appeal from the Football Association of Wales against the decision to stage Wales' Euro 2000 qualifier against Denmark in June at Anfield. Uefa gave the FAW permission to play Euro 2000 qualifiers against Italy and Denmark at Anfield, but after the Italy game the FAW asked the association to reverse its initial decision and allow the Denmark match to be staged at Ninian Park, Cardiff, instead.

Uefa ruled last month that the Denmark game should remain at Anfield, because there were "no urgent sporting or organisational reasons" for switching it and has now thrown out the FAW appeal against that decision.

The European body has deferred a decision on the Republic of Ireland's Euro 2000 qualifier in Macedonia until today. Saturday's match may be cancelled because of the threat of Nato air strikes against Serb troops in neighbouring Kosovo.