Football: Scales heads dynamic Dons

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The Independent Online
IF HE tunes in on Japan's version of Ceefax, Gary Lineker may be surprised by Terry Venables' England team for the B match with Northern Ireland at Hillsborough tonight. Three Wimbledon players start.

The presence of Warren Barton and John Scales in defence, while Dean Holdsworth patrols upfront, reflects the Dons' current success and their development from cruder days, when Lineker claimed fans were better off watching them on teletext than in the flesh.

The Dons, once described by their owner Sam Hammam as the 'English Bulldog SAS club', boast a finer pedigree now, as Bryan Hamilton's visitors should discover. Holdsworth will partner Chris Sutton in a nimble front line, while Scales and Barton bring height, fight and versatility to a back-four also including Steve Bould and John Beresford.

Two of Beresford's Newcastle club-mates, Ruel Fox and Robert Lee, help Chris Bart-Williams, of Sheffield Wednesday, and Arsenal's Paul Merson form arguably one of the most attacking midfields sent out by an England manager. The formation is unknown, although Venables' insistence on using flexible players frees the team from traditional regimens: any of the four midfielders could perform Gazza-style 'hole' duties. Above all, tonight, in the words of Don Howe, Venables' assistant, will give 'Terry the chance to try out his gut feelings about players'.

Hamilton called up Cardiff's Paul Miller after Steve Morrow and Neil Masters withdrew through injury.

ENGLAND B: Pressman (Sheff Wed); Barton (Wimbledon), Scales (Wimbledon), Bould (Arsenal, capt), Beresford (Newcastle); Fox (Newcastle), Bart-Williams (Sheff Wed), Lee (Newcastle), Merson (Arsenal); Sutton (Norwich), Holdsworth (Wimbledon). Substitutes: Martyn (Crystal Palace), Edghill (Man City), Summerbee (Swindon), Stubbs (Bolton), Armstrong (Crystal Palace).

NORTHERN IRELAND B (from): Fettis (Hull); Stranney (Stoke), Lomas (Man City), Hunter (Wrexham), McGibbon (Man Utd), Patterson (C Palace), Horlock (Swindon), Lennon (Crewe), Black (Nottm Forest), O'Neill (Hibernian), Quinn (Blackpool), Robinson (Tottenham), McMahon (Tottenham), Dennison (Wolves), O'Boyle (Dunfermline), Miller (Cardiff).