Football: Ratcliffe ready for a comeback: Veteran defender back in Welsh squad

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The Independent Online
KEVIN RATCLIFFE is back in contention for a place in the Welsh side to meet Belgium in the crucial World Cup qualifier on 31 March.

The 32-year-old former Everton central defender, whose career was revived by Cardiff City less than three months ago, is included in the squad of 16 for a match Wales must win if they are to have any realistic chance of reaching the finals.

Ratcliffe's last game for Wales was in the 4-1 European Championship defeat by Germany in Nuremberg in October 1991. If he plays against Belgium he will win his 59th cap.

Lou Macari, the Stoke manager, yesterday criticised the Football Association's decision to charge him with misconduct after his club's home match against Stockport on 9 March. Macari was seen pushing and jostling with players and officials before being dragged off the pitch by colleagues.

'I was simply trying to prevent a possible flashpoint and avoid unnecessary conflict,' Macari said. 'I'm amazed I have been charged.'

The Stoke striker Mark Stein was also charged with misconduct after allegedly throwing a punch at Stockport's defender, Jim Gannon.

Ian Wright may need a hernia operation that would take him out of football for a month, jeopardising Arsenal's chances in the FA Cup semi- final at Wembley on 4 April. A decision on an operation will be made this weekend. Alan Smith, his fellow Arsenal striker, signed a new contract yesterday that will keep him at Highbury until 1996.