Football: Symons caught in Wales wrangle

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The Independent Online
PORTSMOUTH must face Wolves on Sunday week in a game which could help decide if they are to win automatic promotion from the First Division without their central defender, Kit Symons, who has become another victim of a club v country dispute, writes Trevor Haylett.

Wales, who play the RCS (formerly Czechoslovakia) in a World Cup qualifier in Ostrava three days later, will invoke the Uefa six-day regulation which gives them first call on the player. Symons was yesterday named in a 16-man squad, which featured recalls for Chris Coleman of Crystal Palace and Andy Melville of Oxford.

Wales dare not allow Symons to run the risk of injury because they are already without their two other first- choice defenders, Palace's Eric Young and Mark Aizlewood of Bristol City, through suspension. Portsmouth, in second place, trail Newcastle by two points but have a three-point advantage over West Ham with four games remaining.

Yorath is well aware of the value of his absentees, Young and Aizlewood. 'There is no doubt we will miss the pair of them,' he said. 'Eric is a tower of strength, and we do not seem to be the same when Mark isn't playing, as he has been one of the major factors in our better performances.'

The Scotland coach, Andy Roxburgh, has taken a prudent approach by naming a provisional squad of 31 players for their trip to Lisbon to face Portugal in a Group One qualifier on the same night.

With bitter recent experience of large-scale withdrawals of injured players from his squads, Roxburgh is understandably anxious to have more than one option for every position in his team.

'I will have to wait and see how the players come through their domestic programme before deciding my travelling party,' he said. 'I have named this provisional squad so that the players and the clubs can be notified that they are in the frame.'

About 20 players will travel to the Stadium of Light for a match the Scots must win, but Maurice Malpas and Duncan Ferguson (Dundee United), Stephen Wright and Eoin Jess (Aberdeen), and Tottenham's Gordon Durie are already out through injury. There are injury doubts concerning Alan McLaren (Hearts), David Robertson (Rangers), Alex McLeish (Aberdeen), David Bowman and Jim McInally (both Dundee United).

WALES SQUAD (v RCS, World Cup Group Four, Ostrava, 28 April): Southall (Everton), Roberts (QPR); Phillips, Bowen (both Norwich), Bodin (Swindon), Symons (Portsmouth), Melville (Oxford), Coleman (Crystal Palace), Ratcliffe (Cardiff), Speed (Leeds), Horne (Everton), Pembridge (Derby), Giggs, Hughes (both Manchester Utd), Saunders (Aston Villa), Rush (Liverpool).

SCOTLAND PROVISIONAL SQUAD (v Portgual, World Cup Group One, Lisbon, 28 April): Goram (Rangers), Gunn (Norwich), Walker (Hearts); Booth, McKimmie, Shearer, McLeish, Irvine (all Aberdeen), Gough, McPherson, D Robertson, Brown, McCall, I Ferguson, Durrant, McCoist (all Rangers), Levein, McLaren, J Robertson (all Hearts), Boyd, McStay, Collins (Celtic), McInally, Bowman (both Dundee United), Gallacher (Blackburn), Jackson (Hibernian), McAllister (Leeds), McClair (Manchester United), Nevin (Tranmere), Wright (Hibernian), Whyte (Middlesbrough).

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