Football / World Cup: Coyne joins the commotion

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The Independent Online
ANY resemblance between this afternoon's World Cup qualifier involving the two Irelands at Lansdowne Road and a normal international fixture will be purely coincidental. In keeping with previous meetings, it will be more akin to the weekend's FA Cup derbies or, even more so, an Old Firm match.

It is somewhat appropriate that Jack Charlton yesterday nominated the former Celtic striker, Tommy Coyne, as the replacement for the injured John Aldridge, whom Coyne has also replaced recently at Tranmere. 'The event won't affect him,' Charlton said. 'He's played in front of bigger crowds than he's going to play in front of tomorrow.'

Coyne cites his experience of Old Firm encounters during his four years at Celtic as beneficial, so much that he quipped this all-Irish derby will be 'in the ha'penny place. You can't beat the passion of an Old Firm clash'. He could be in for a surprise.

When the sides last met in a World Cup qualifier at this venue in Ocotber 1989, the technically superior Republic allowed themselves to become embroiled in a patternless, frenetic derby; the first half of which Charlton has described as their worst in his seven years at the helm. The Republic eventually won 3-0.

Pound for pound, the Republic are worth several million more than their Northern counterparts but the nature of the contest devalues such estimations. The likes of Chelsea's Mal Donaghy, playing in his 33rd World Cup tie, Alan McDonald (Queen's Park Rangers) and Nigel Worthington (Sheffield Wednesday) will not be intimidated by the aerial attack they will surely face.

Billy Bingham, for whom victory is vital, will announce his side this morning, after his first-choice goalkeeper, Tommy Wright (fluid on the knee), has had a fitness test. Hull City's Alan Fettis stands by.

'If we win, we're right back in the frame,' Bingham said. 'If we draw, we're still there. If we lose, we're back down at the bottom of the hill and we will need to win our next two away games.' Which is about the size of it.

----------------------------------------------------------------- WORLD CUP GROUP THREE ----------------------------------------------------------------- P W D L F A Pts Spain. . . . . . . . . . . . .6 3 3 0 13 0 9 Rep of Irl . . . . . . . . . .4 2 2 0 6 0 6 N Ireland. . . . . . . . . . .5 2 2 1 7 4 6 Denmark. . . . . . . . . . . .4 1 3 0 1 0 5 Lithuania. . . . . . . . . . .6 1 3 2 5 10 5 Latvia . . . . . . . . . . . .7 0 4 3 3 13 4 Albania. . . . . . . . . . . .6 1 1 4 3 11 3 -----------------------------------------------------------------

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND: Bonner (Celtic); Irwin (Manchester United), McGrath (Aston Villa), Moran (Blackburn), Phelan (Manchester City), Houghton (Aston Villa), Keane (Nottingham Forest), Townsend (Chelsea), Staunton (Aston Villa), Coyne (Tranmere), Quinn (Manchester City).

NORTHERN IRELAND (probable): Wright (Newcastle); Donaghy (Chelsea), Taggart (Barnsley), McDonald (Queen's Park Rangers), Worthington (Sheffield Wednesday), O'Neill (Dundee United), Morrow (Arsenal), Magilton (Oxford), Hughes (Strasbourg), Dowie (Southampton), Gray (Luton).

Referee: K Rothlisberger (Switzerland).

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