Football: McGrath back in Irish favour

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The Independent Online
Two veterans were in the spotlight yesterday for very different reasons. After an absence of nine months, Paul McGrath, the 37-year-old Derby defender, was recalled to the Republic of Ireland squad for the World Cup warm-up match against Wales on 11 February.

Mick McCarthy, the Republic manager, said: "There is no point in bringing Paul McGrath along just to sit on the bench. He will definitely start the game. He is playing very well for Derby at the moment. He is as fit, if not fitter, than was the case two years ago."

Meanwhile, Everton's FA Cup elimination by Bradford City is expected to claim a distinguished victim tonight when the Toffees drop Neville Southall for the first time in 15 years for their trip to Newcastle.

The 38-year-old goalkeeper, who has made a record 726 appearances for the club, will be one of several changes in the wake of five successive defeats and the Cup loss. Everton have conceded eight goals in their last three matches, so last summer's pounds 1m signing from Oldham, Paul Gerrard, will be called up.

The last time Southall was dropped was in November 1982 after Ian Rush put four goals past him in a Merseyside derby. He went on loan to Port Vale but reclaimed his place the following season and has been a permanent fixture since.

Everton also confirmed yesterday that the Italian Serie A club Fiorentina have made a bid for Andrei Kanchelskis. "There has been a mass of speculation," Joe Royle, the Everton manager, said, "We can't deny Fiorentina have expressed an interest."

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