Football: Hinchcliffe called up for trip to Moldova

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The Independent Online
With a week still to go to his first match, Glenn Hoddle is fast becoming acquainted with the reality of international management: it is one thing to pick a team, it is another entirely to get it on the pitch.

Having been forced to omit a quartet of Euro 96 stalwarts from his original squad to play Moldova in Sunday's World Cup qualifier, he yesterday learned of a further four likely withdrawals. There are two apiece from Liverpool and Newcastle. Steve McManaman and Robbie Fowler have back problems, Steve Howey has a broken little toe and David Batty a strained ankle. Welcome to international management.

Hoddle's response has been strong. The four have been asked to turn up at Bisham Abbey so their bodies can be assessed and their minds educated in the Hoddle way. The England coach has also called up Andy Hinchcliffe, the 27-year-old left-sided Everton player.

While their managers may not be happy at the injured having to travel, Hoddle is within his rights. When a World Cup match is involved, he can insist on a doctor's examination before players withdraw and can restrict their return to club action. However, he is keen to avoid falling out with club managers this early in his reign and will doubtless seek to resolve the age-old club-country conflict by negotiation.

Hinchcliffe's summons confirms that a glittering youth career is back on course. Having been an exceptional young talent at Manchester City, Hinchcliffe lost form after a family bereavement coincided with an unfavourable change of management. It has taken the arrival at Goodison Park of Joe Royle (and his assistant Willie Donachie, the former Scotland left-back) to restore his game.

Though primarily a left-back Hinchcliffe has also played in midfield. That experience, combined with a left foot which can deliver telling crosses and powerful shots, makes him well suited to play the wing-back role preferred by Hoddle.

Craig Brown, the Scotland manager, has lost two players from the squad he named last week for Saturday's World Cup qualifier in Austria. John Spencer, of Chelsea, and Billy McKinlay, the Blackburn midfielder, both pulled out at the weekend.

The Wales manager, Bobby Gould, last night called up the uncapped Wrexham midfielder Wayne Phillips for Saturday's qualifier against San Marino in Cardiff. Phillips replaces the Hearts midfielder Jeremy Goss, who has been forced to withdraw because of a thigh strain.

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