Football: World Cup '94: Townsend suffers allergic reaction

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The Independent Online
THE REPUBLIC OF IRELAND skipper Andy Townsend awoke yesterday to find his legs swollen and discoloured and his appearance in Friday's match against Mexico in doubt.

As uplifting as the single-goal victory over Italy was, the lung- bursting effort took its toll, none more so than on Tommy Coyne who suffered a kind of intoxication brought on by consuming too much water. He described it as an 'alarming experience' but seems to be over the worst and is confident of being ready to take part in Ireland's second fixture.

Townsend is a different worry, his problem apparently one of being allergic to insect repellent. It had the effect of turning his legs 'all blotchy', scarlet and inflamed. The Aston Villa midfield player said: 'I thought I must have caught some horrible bug and it frightened the life out of me.'

Townsend would be a big loss. His performance, stamina and organisational skills were vital at Giants Stadium on Saturday. Yesterday he stayed behind in the team hotel as the squad had a light training session after their day off. So too did Coyne, who after running himself to a standstill against Italy, was forced to wait more than three hours to produce a urine sample for a routine drugs test.

He drank large quantities of fluids to try and speed the process and paid a painful price. On the flight to Florida he was taken ill and needed to be covered in blankets with ice supplies on his head.

'The pain was incredible,' he said. 'It only emphasises how important it is for players to get water but I think my problem afterwards was that I drank too much too quickly.'

The Belgian team who overcame the furnace conditions in the Citrus Bowl - at pitch level, it was an estimated 100F felt the benefit of the gel which reflects sunlight and is applied before the start and at half-time.

'We had a practice match last week and it was so bad it felt as if your head was exploding,' Franky Van Der Elst, their experienced midfield player, said. 'Our doctors have now come up with the gel and it was so much better for us. You could keep a cool head for so much longer into the game.'