FOOTBALL: Wise's England career in doubt

Dennis Wise's attack on a cab driver outside the west London club owned by Terry Venables may have left his England career stranded after he was convicted of assault at London's Horseferry Road Magistrates' Court yesterday.

The Chelsea captain will not accompany the national squad to Ireland next week after a meeting with Venables, the England coach, in London last night.

The 27-year-old midfielder has been warned that he faces a custodial sentence when his punishment is decided in March.

Chelsea are backing Wise and the club confirmed that he will retain the captaincy, given back to him two games ago, against Millwall in tonight's FA Cup replay at Stamford Bridge.

The Football Association, however, is anxious to avoid further controversy during an ill-fated season which has seen allegations of bribery and "bungs", Paul Merson's admission of cocaine abuse and Eric Cantona's two-footed faux pas.

Venables met with Wise and, according to an FA statement: "They decided, with regret, that Dennis Wise should not be part of the England squad for next week's international in Ireland."

In court, Wise claimed he had punched through the glass partition and shaken the 65-year-old driver, Gerald Graham, by the hair because his girlfriend was being dragged along by the open door of the cab.

After finding the player guilty, the magistrate, Geoffrey Breen, deferred sentence until 13 March pending reports and warned him: "You are facing a serious risk of custody."

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