Football: Taylor to take no further action over Under-21s

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The Independent Online
Despite allegations of drinking and bad behaviour, the England Under-21 coach, Peter Taylor, says the incidents have been blown out of all proportion. Phil Casey reports.

Peter Taylor, the England Under-21 coach, yesterday dismissed newspaper reports alleging drunkenness among his players in Italy.

Five players were banned from attending England's World Cup qualifying match in Rome on 11 October after allegations about their behaviour.

However, Taylor said yesterday the matter was settled and no further action would be taken over reports surrounding the players' conduct after their European Championship qualifying victory over Italy.

He added that an article in a Sunday newspaper which detailed allegations of a drinking binge could be subject to action from the Football Association.

The incident in Rieti, where England had beaten Italy 1-0, involved Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard, Danny Murphy, Jamie Carragher and Ben Thatcher, but Taylor has named three of those players in his squad to face Greece in the first leg of their qualifying play-off, while Thatcher and Carragher miss out through suspension.

"I've gone on record as saying as far as I'm concerned the matter has been dealt with. There was a problem I was unhappy with and the five players didn't see the senior game in Rome. As far as I'm concerned, that was sufficient punishment. It's certainly been exaggerated quite a lot as I see it."

Taylor said the incident in question was not drink-related and added: "The players' luggage should have been ready to go at 4.00 but that was ignored.

"It was something they didn't particularly want to do so I had to show a bit of strength. I've gone on record as saying it's not drink-related. I sent them back to the airport. It had nothing to do with drink. The players know I was disappointed. They have phoned me and apologised."

Taylor's unbeaten side were top of Group Two after completing the double over Italy, which saw them become the first visiting team to beat the Italians for 12 years. But points dropped against Georgia and Poland meant they finished outside the top seven group winners and they need to win their two-leg play-off to reach the last eight.

The first leg will take place on 13 November in Crete, with the return match at Carrow Road in early December.

"To me, the winners of the groups should have qualified," Taylor said. "It's a bit disappointing that you can win a group including Italy by seven points and still not qualify automatically. I didn't find out that was the case for definite until three days after we beat Italy so it was a bit of a downer. But we're playing Greece now and I'm pleased we've another couple of games at least.

"I saw them in January when they played Italy in a friendly and they won 1-0 that day. They have very tricky players."

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