NO WONDER Australia kicked up such a fuss over Harry Kewell's non-appearance for their friendlies against Brazil. If two games in five days was deemed too much for a young and apparently super-fit Premiership star, then how come two 26-year-olds from the Nationwide First Division took it in their stride?
Kevin Muscat and Steve Corica both turned out for Wolves against Swindon at Molineux on Saturday, barely 24 hours after stepping off their 10,000- mile flight home.
Both had played before a 50,000-crowd in Sydney's new Olympic stadium last weekend and the idea of missing the return match in Melbourne did not enter their heads, especially with a 2-0 defeat to avenge.
Kewell's injury was greeted with more than a little scepticism given that Leeds had initially refused to let him take part. In the event, the Socceroos forced a 2-2 draw in the second match, watched by 80,000 spectators, many of whom the promoters had let in free after Ronaldo also pulled out.
"You want to play for your country and keep your place in the side," Muscat said, revealing that he also took the opportunity to visit his family in Melbourne. He admitted that the temperature in Sydney (35C) was a touch higher than Wolverhampton at this time of year. What's more, the pair showed little sign of fatigue on Saturday. Muscat had the misfortune to concede a debatable penalty but otherwise enjoyed a good match, playing the full 90 minutes. Corica lasted 70 minutes before manager Colin Lee gave him a well-earned rest. However, it was just as well he did. Wolves were trailing by that penalty goal to nil at the time and needed the substitute Haavard Flo to grab an 82nd-minute equaliser.
Ninety not out for man with the sponge
TOM JENNER is not exactly a household name - indeed, the closest he has been to fame was playing against an army team that included Denis Compton - but he may enjoy one distinction. At 90 years of age, he must surely be the oldest person still actively involved in competitive football.
Ten days after reaching that milestone with a celebratory half-glass of champagne, he cannot wait for Saturday,when he can take up his regular pitch-side place with the New Eltham-based South London Alliance League side Racs.
Jenner is assistant physio, and but for a hip injury might still be playing. "I was turning out for the veterans when I was 81 but I went over backwards in a training session and broke my hip. I had an emergency operation but they wouldn't give me a replacement. They said I was too old but I reckon they just didn't want another name in the queue.
"It means I'm not very mobile any more - but I can still shout a lot. I keep thinking I should pack it in but I always think, `What else are you going to do on a Saturday afternoon, just sit in your rocking chair?'"
Jenner has been with Racs since 1955 but his passion for football goes back to the 1920s, when he turned out on Hackney Marshes. "I loved the game then and I'm still enjoying it now," he said.
The number of League appearances Lee Dixon now needs to reach 400 for Arsenal.
Arsenal's total victories over Middlesbrough in all competitions.
Dean Windass's career League goals after Saturday's consolation goal for Bradford at Leeds.
150 Andy Cole's total League appearances for Manchester United.
WHINGE OF THE WEEK
"The referee asked how Posh Spice was and then sent Schnoor off. He asked where they were eating tonight."
Derby manager Jim Smith wonders if some referees and Manchester United have a special relationship after Mike Reed, encouraged by David Beckham and Gary Neville, sent off Stefan Schnoor.
Team Of The Weekend
Manager of the week: Arsene Wenger - who may make staying up late to watch the fight compulsory after Saturday's scintillating display.
Performance of the week: Liverpool - ending Sunderland's unbeaten record left manager Gerard Houllier justifiably proud.
Forgotten man... Face of the future
JOE KINNEAR regarded the 28-year-old Northern Ireland international as one of his classier signings and Wimbledon fans soon concurred after some impressive and influential performances by the pounds 1.6m former West Ham midfielder. Hughes is clearly not an Egil Olsen player, however, and has not been seen in a first-team shirt since scoring Wimbledon's 73rd- minute equaliser in a Worthington Cup tie at Cardiff on 14 September. A move seems on the cards, perhaps to Fulham or Charlton.
ANOTHER TO emerge from the abundant crop of youth talent at David O'Leary's disposal, the 19-year-old midfielder McPhail was a member of Leeds' FA Youth Cup-winning side in 1997. Now he is seen as a player with a great future at domestic and international level. An excellent passer with good vision, the Republic of Ireland under-21 international has already proved himself reliable enough to be trusted in difficult Uefa Cup ties and can expect to be involved in Moscow this week.
Juve sights on Scholes
ROY KEANE may not be the only Manchester United player in Juventus's sights. According to the Mail on Sunday, the Italians also have designs on Paul Scholes and would not be averse to spending pounds 15m to take him to Turin. The People reckons the Irishman will stay at Old Trafford if United retain the European Cup, although the Sunday Mirror believes it will take more than that and even suggests a bizarre scheme by which United grant him his freedom next summer but then immediately offer him a contract, with a huge signing-on fee to go with it.
The Express says Barry Ferguson's performance for Scotland against England caught Parma's eye but believes Rangers would want pounds 15m for the talented young midfielder. Parma are one of several clubs linked with Sheffield Wednesday's Benito Carbone but he could yet move to Chelsea, according to the News of the World, which suggests the Italian as a replacement for a homeward-bound Gianfranco Zola should Carbone's loan spell with Aston Villa not work out.
The People reckons Middlesbrough are trying to persuade Newcastle to part with Duncan Ferguson for half the pounds 8m Ruud Gullit paid for his services, while the News of the World reckons Newcastle want to sign Luis Enrique, the Barcelona winger, for whom the Spaniards are said to want pounds 7m.
CAUTIONS FOR Gavin McCann, Alex Rae and Paul Butler, who all reached five for the season, kept Sunderland top of the Premiership card chart with 47 yellows and three reds, three ahead of Derby County, whose clutch against Manchester United raised their tally to 44 yellows and two reds. Seth Johnson's booking was his seventh of the season while debutant striker Marvin Robinson became the 20th Derby man cautioned so far, one more than Everton. Derby's Stefan Schnoor is the sixth player sent off by Mike Reed. Lee Bowyer of Leeds collected his ninth yellow card against Bradford, while Chelsea's Chris Sutton picked up his sixth at Everton, his third in four Premiership games in addition to his red in the Champions' League. Arsenal's Tony Adams, cautioned for England in the first leg of the Euro 2000 play-off, was booked for the second successive Saturday but his yellow against Middlesbrough was his first in the Premiership this season.
"The mythical German striker that we have allegedly been tracking for months can exclusively be revealed as a defender. Jorn Schwinkedorf, a 28-year-old from SV Mannheim, is 6ft 5in tall, weighing 90kg. This season he has played 11 games in the German Second Division, scoring once."
From the Unofficial Cardiff City On-line site