Football: McAllister's untimely national call: Scotland insist on release of captain

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The Independent Online
SCOTLAND are to enforce their right to the services of their captain, Gary McAllister, for the friendly against the Netherlands at Hampden Park on 23 March - 24 hours after Leeds want him for their rearranged Premiership home game against Aston Villa, writes Phil Shaw.

'We don't want to fight with the clubs, especially Leeds, who have been very co-operative down the years,' Craig Brown, the Scotland manager, said. 'But Fifa gives us the right to demand players and we'll be following their ruling to the letter. We'll also be invoking the five-day ruling, so anyone who calls off injured from the Dutch game won't be able to play for his club on the Saturday.'

On the same day, the Republic of Ireland play Russia in Dublin, a match which could involve Leeds' Gary Kelly and David O'Leary and Villa's Steve Staunton, Andy Townsend, Ray Houghton and Paul McGrath. Jack Charlton has not revealed whether he will insist on their release.

Scotland will meet the Netherlands in a return fixture in Utrecht on Friday 27 May. They will also begin their European Championship qualifying campaign on the road, opening their 10- match Group Eight schedule against Finland in Helsinki on 7 September.

Jimmy Nicholl, the Raith Rovers manager, today travels to Belfast as hot favourite for the position as Northern Ireland manager. He is one of four to be interviewed, the others are Chris Nicholl, Gerry Armstrong and Bryan Hamilton.

Nicholl is believed to have placed two conditions on his acceptance of the post: that he stays with his club until the end of the season and remains resident in Scotland, where his family have settled.

SCOTLAND'S EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP GROUP EIGHT QUALIFIERS: 7 Sept: v Finland (A); 12 Oct: v Faroes (H); 16 Nov: v Russia (H); 18 Dec: v Greece (A); 29 Mar 1995: v Russia (A); 26 Apr: v San Marino (A); 7 June: v Faroes (A); 16 Aug: v Greece (H); 6 Sept: v Finland (H); 15 Nov: v San Marino (H).