Football: McGrath goes missing for the third time

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The Independent Online
PAUL McGRATH has done another disappearing act from Aston Villa. He has been out injured since the Coca-Cola Cup final in March, but Ron Atkinson, his manager, has seen him for 'about 10 minutes in the last month' even though he is supposed to report to the club every day.

It is not the first time McGrath has gone missing. Last July he failed to report for a trip to Japan and in January he was fined after failing to appear before an FA Cup tie at Exeter. Atkinson said yesterday that he would be taking disciplinary action again and also hinted that new contract talks could be 'jeopardised'.

'He should have had a couple of meetings with specialists at the weekend but didn't turn up,' Atkinson said. 'I can't pretend to be happy with him.'

Gunnar Halle, Oldham's Norwegian international defender, will miss the rest of the season - and the Latics' crucial four-match fight against relegation - after cracking a rib in Tuesday's 3-0 defeat away to Wimbledon.

The French World Cup organising committee yesterday confirmed that it would be possible to expand the 1998 World Cup finals from 24 to 32 teams.