Fulham delay final Collymore decision

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FULHAM WILL delay a decision on the future of Stan Collymore until Friday despite the former England striker's matchwinning goal in the Worthington Cup third-round victory at West Bromwich on Tuesday.

FULHAM WILL delay a decision on the future of Stan Collymore until Friday despite the former England striker's matchwinning goal in the Worthington Cup third-round victory at West Bromwich on Tuesday.

Collymore officially played the last match of his extended loan spell from Aston Villa and scored the winner for the Cottagers in their 2-1 win after coming off the bench. The goal made sure that Paul Bracewell has yet to taste defeat in charge of the Cottagers this season, and at the same time ended the Baggies' unbeaten run since Brian Little took over during the summer.

When pressed on Collymore's future at Fulham, Bracewell would only say: "Stan got a smashing goal, I was delighted for him. His loan is up on Friday and that is when a decision will be made. I will be meeting Stan and his agent and out of courtesy I will also be talking with Aston Villa."

Collymore refused to comment after the game, but Paul Peschisolido, who grabbed Fulham's opening goal before Lee Hughes equaliser and set up the second, was quick to praise the former England international. "Stan is popular in the dressing-room and he gets on really well with the rest of the players," the Canadian striker said. "But he has probably not done himself any favours by remaining silent."

The Football League have defended the Worthington Cup after yet another apathetic response from the leading Premiership clubs and their supporters.

The likes of Manchester United and Arsenal have long rested their star players for the competition because they rank it bottom of their list of priorities, but now Sunderland have got in on the act. Peter Reid fielded a side consisting mainly of fringe players at Wimbledon on Tuesday night, although he later admitted he had made a mistake after they lost 3-2 in extra time.

The Football League claim they understand why teams rest players, but they maintain the Worthington Cup is still a prestigious competition.

The Football League spokesman, Peter Rowe, said: "We're not at all disappointed. If you look at any competition there are always going to be a few gremlins and low points.

"We recognise the use of squad systems and the complexity of the fixture lists. But we still think the Worthington Cup has a big part to play, and it does guarantee the winners a place in the Uefa Cup."

The supporters of the big clubs would appear to have lost interest. Only 15,000 fans turned out at Highbury to watch Arsenal defeat Preston, while 5,000 hardy souls watched Wimbledon's match with the high-flying Wearsiders at Selhurst Park.

Rowe still insisted, however, that the football public are interested in the Worthington Cup and he revealed that gates are up. "Attendances are actually up two per cent this year, and we are confident that the increase will hold as the tournament progresses to the bigger rounds," he said. "I have no doubt that people will become gripped by it the closer we get to the final at Wembley."

Rowe believes that the Worthington Cup is also important because it helps generate money for the smaller, poorer clubs.

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