Sanchez on the defensive in Healy move row

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The Independent Football

The Northern Ireland coach Lawrie Sanchez has denied trying to engineer a move to a Premiership club for David Healy.

The Leeds manager Dennis Wise demanded on Tuesday that Sanchez stop "harping on" about the quality of the Elland Road striker. Sanchez, a former team-mate of Wise at Wimbledon during the infamous "Crazy Gang" years, has declared his surprise that the Northern Ireland international striker Healy has not been snapped up by a Premiership club.

Sanchez explained yesterday that he was not mischief-making, merely that his admiration for the striker has been wrongly interpreted. "Having read some of the comments I'm supposed to have said I understand where Dennis is coming from," he said.

"He's 'Sir David' over in Northern Ireland and every time I go there I'm asked the question, 'Can he play in the Premiership?' Of course my answer is 'yes' - but he's with Leeds and I'm sure he would like to play [in the Premiership] with Leeds."

Wise is waiting to learn whether Healy has broken his arm after the 27-year-old sustained a blow during the 2-1 victory at Leeds' Championship relegation rivals, Hull, on Tuesday. But the manager explained: "I'm fed up with him [Sanchez] saying how he can't believe how no one has come in for David Healy. I want David Healy at this football club so Lawrie, please do me a favour, I know you well. Please answer my phone calls when I ring you and stop harping on if you don't mind. I don't think too many David Healys come along too often. When I first came he wasn't in good form and everyone makes a thing of it. He's done well these past few weeks and I want him to carry on doing that."

Sanchez is looking for his team to push on and make sure of qualification for next year's European Championship.

"We have put ourselves in a position where, if we can get decent results in our next three games, we have a real chance of getting one of those two qualifying slots," he said.

"I certainly feel if we can take it down to our last game against Spain needing a point to qualify, I would fancy our chances."

England and Spain meet in a friendly at Old Trafford on Wednesday - and Sanchez has masterminded victories over both sides.

Recalling the matches, he added: "I just felt on both occasions there was something in the air. The last few minutes were almost like slow motion. It is as if you are running a marathon and you know you are going to win but you want to enjoy those final few yards."