Football: Wales face world champions weakened by striking crisis

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The Independent Online
Wales will face the might of the world champions, Brazil, tonight with almost all of their regular strikers left at home.

Wales' manager, Bobby Gould, took his 16-man squad on the 14-hour flight to Brasilia on Sunday night without John Hartson, Mark Hughes and Nathan Blake. All three were late withdrawals, while Everton's veteran goalkeeper, Neville Southall, and Bristol City's Rob Edwards also pulled out after Saturday's matches.

Ryan Giggs, who captained Wales in their last match, in Belgium, was not even named in the squad because of worries about his hamstring injury.

Gould has called up the Wrexham goalkeeper Andy Marriott, the Blackburn defender Chris Coleman, St Johnstone's former Coventry winger Lee Jenkinson and the Coventry striker, Simon Howarth.

Wales will not be facing a full-strength Brazil side. Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos and Juninho have been left out because they have already used up, or are close to using up, the quota of five friendlies for which their clubs are obliged to release them in a year.

Rangers' Stuart McCall has been called into Scotland's squad for the friendly against France in St-Etienne tomorrow.

The 33-year-old midfielder replaces Celtic's new recruit, Paul Lambert, who has been given time off following his move to Parkhead from Borussia Dortmund last week.

McCall has made a full recovery from a serious knee injury that saw him play only seven League matches last season. He is now set to win his 40th cap in France.

The Blackburn central defender Colin Hendry also misses the trip to France, along with Lambert. Hendry was due to travel today, even though he has a knee injury. But he is now staying at home, because his pregnant wife, Denise, slipped a disc on Sunday night.

The uncapped Tottenham defender Stephen Carr has been added to the Republic of Ireland squad for the World Cup play-off against Belgium in Brussels on Saturday.

Ireland's manager, Mick McCarthy, called up Carr after injuries ruled out the defenders Denis Irwin (Manchester United) and Curtis Fleming (Middlesbrough). Capped 12 times at Under-21 level, Carr has been a Spurs regular for the past two seasons.