Football / International: Absent Charlton looking for revenge

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NEVER one slavishly to follow the doctrine of accepted management technique, Jack Charlton yesterday took the typically idiosyncratic step of sending home seven of his best players in advance of the Republic of Ireland's friendly with Wales tonight at Tolka Park.

Only the Chelsea skipper, Andy Townsend (back), could be said to be a genuine recruit to the ranks of the internationally injured. The remainder - a veritable array of talent which included Ray Houghton and Steve Staunton (Aston Villa), Kevin Moran (Blackburn), John Sheridan (Sheffield Wednesday), Alan Kernaghan (Middlesbrough) and John Aldridge (Tranmere) - were deemed surplus to requirements even though the Irish have a few scores to settle here, the Welsh inflicting on Charlton his only two home defeats since he hooked his line to the Republic's cause in 1986.

As ever, though, Big Jack's methods stood scrutiny. With eight World Cup qualifiers to follow this year, he has used this friendly joust to help the club managers on whom he will later lean.

The manager himself has decided to give the game a miss, heading instead for Albania to spy on Northern Ireland, who visit Dublin next month for the resumption of World Cup hostilities.

Charlton left behind in the charge of his assistant, Maurice Setters, a side showing nine changes from that which assumed a position of strength in Group Three after holding Spain to no goals in Seville in November.

Only Pat Bonner and Roy Keane, the Nottingham Forest midfielder who insisted on playing, survive, and that gives a rare chance to the forgotten Chelsea striker, Tony Cascarino, and the Manchester United reserve central defender, Brian Carey.

Wales have lost Ian Rush, Dean Saunders and Ryan Giggs through injury but, contrastingly, Terry Yorath has attempted to pick the strongest side from those who remain, recalling Mark Aizlewood, Paul Bodin and Geraint Williams.

They have won at four different Dublin venues since 1960 and Yorath scored his only international goal in the 3-1 Tolka Park victory in 1981. Now he hopes for another in their favoured city to boost morale before the difficult game with the Group Four leaders, Belgium, in Cardiff on 31 March.

He names Gary Speed in attack alongside Mark Hughes and says of the Leeds' youngster who still awaits his first goal for his country: 'Take Ian Wright away and Gary would be footballer of the year. In a struggling side he has been outstanding and I have no doubt he will score goals for Wales.'

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Bonner (Celtic); Morris (Middlesbrough), O'Leary (Arsenal), Carey (Manchester United), McGoldrick (Crystal Palace), Byrne (Millwall), Keane (Nottingham Forest), O'Brien (Newcastle United), McLoughlin (Portsmouth), Cascarino (Chelsea), D Kelly (Newcastle). Substitutes: A Kelly (Sheffield United), Whelan (Liverpool), Sheedy (Newcastle United), Coyne (Celtic), Slaven (Middlesbrough), Turner (Tottenham), Irwin (Manchester United).

WALES: Southall (Everton); Phillips (Norwich), Bodin (Swindon), Aizlewood (Bristol City), Young (Crystal Palace), Symons (Portsmouth), Williams (Ipswich), Horne (Everton), Speed (Leeds), Hughes (Manchester United), Pembridge (Derby). Substitutes: Roberts (Queen's Park Rangers), Bowen (Norwich), Hodges (Sheffield United), Coleman (Crystal Palace), Allen (Millwall).