Football: Wright's fight for fitness

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The Independent Online
IAN WRIGHT has not given up hope of leading England's front line against San Marino in Wednesday's World Cup qualifier at Wembley, writes Rupert Metcalf.

The Arsenal striker, who has scored 22 goals for his club this season but has yet to open his account for his country, received treatment at Highbury yesterday on the leg muscle injury which caused his last-minute substitution there on Saturday.

Wright, who scored twice to dismiss Nottingham Forest from the FA Cup before his injury intervened, said: 'It is not a groin strain, just a muscle twinge.'

George Graham, Arsenal's manager, was pessimistic about Wright's chances: 'We would all love Ian to be fit for England, but I think he could be struggling.' Alan Smith, Wright's club colleague, had already withdrawn from the England party with a twisted ankle.

Although Wright joined the squad last night, Graham Taylor, the England manager, has promoted Lee Sharpe of Manchester United and Sheffield United's Brian Deane from the stand-by list.

Andy Roxburgh, the Scotland coach, has called up the Rangers midfield man, Ian Ferguson, for Wednesday's World Cup game at Ibrox against Malta, after two of his club colleagues dropped out. Richard Gough and Stuart McCall both have groin strains.