Football: Strachan speaks out in defence of Dublin

Coventry City 1 Sheffield Wednesday 0
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The Independent Online
Dion Dublin's reward for the richest goalscoring form of his career might be to play for England in the role of goal stopper.

The 28-year-old striker has raised his tally for the season from eight to 16 in the space of seven matches, helping Coventry reach middle ground in the Premiership, the last 16 of the FA Cup and himself into the plans of the England coach, Glenn Hoddle, for Wednesday's World Cup warm-up match against Chile.

But his responsibilities at Wembley, should he be required, are as likely to involve defending as attacking, according to his manager, Gordon Strachan.

Strachan said: "I've spoken to Glenn Hoddle and told him he's got two players in one but he already knows that Dion can play centre-half as well as centre-forward. That's why he's picked him. It would not surprise me if he played him in defence."

Strachan has been fulsome in his admiration for Dublin despite his rejection of a pounds 16,000-a-week new contract at Highfield Road, a stance some managers would regard as grounds for instant banishment.

It would not have met with George Graham's or Kenny Dalglish's approval but Strachan has declined to make the issue a matter for confrontation, even expressing sympathy for the player. "It could have been a difficult time for him but it has not altered our relationship at all," he said.

Plainly it has not altered his commitment, either, much to the frustration of Viorel Moldovan, the Romanian striker for whom Strachan paid a club record fee last month but who, as Dublin shines, can so far do no better than a place on the substitutes' bench.

Moldovan might have expected to participate on Saturday as the match entered its final phase with defenders still on top. But then Jon Newsome's clumsy challenge brought Dublin's pursuit of a long clearance to an illegal end in the penalty area. There was never a doubt that Dublin would take the kick nor ,in his present mood, that he would score.

Goals: Dublin (74 pen) 1-0.

Coventry City (4-4-2): Hedman; Nilsson, Shaw, Breen, Burrows; Telfer, Boateng, Soltvedt (Strachan, 65), Hall; Dublin, Huckerby. Substitutes not used: Boland, Haworth, Moldovan, Ogrizovic (gk).

Sheffield Wednesday (4-4-2): Pressman; Nolan, Newsome, Walker, Hinchcliffe; Rudi (Whittingham, 71), Hyde (Magilton, 85), Atherton, Pembridge (Mayrleb, 79); Carbone, Di Canio. Substitutes not used: Nicol, Clarke (gk).

Referee: G Ashby (Worcester).

Man of the match: Breen.

Attendance: 18,375.

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