West Ham could face expulsion over cup substitute

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The Independent Online

Harry Redknapp, the West Ham manager, was said to be "too upset to talk" last night after learning that Aston Villa are demanding re-entry into the Worthington Cup because the Hammers fielded an ineligible player in their quarter-final tie.

Harry Redknapp, the West Ham manager, was said to be "too upset to talk" last night after learning that Aston Villa are demanding re-entry into the Worthington Cup because the Hammers fielded an ineligible player in their quarter-final tie.

Emmanuel Omoyinmi came off the substitutes' bench for the last eight minutes of extra-time during Wednesday's match at Upton Park, which West Ham won in a penalty shoot-out after a 2-2 draw. They now play Leicester or Fulham in the semi-finals.

Omoyinmi was cup-tied after he played for Gillingham in both legs of their second round tie against Bolton. Villa want, at the very least, to replay the game and the club's secretary, Steve Stride, said: "We've lodged a complaint with the Football League. We're treating this as a serious breach of regulations. We trust the outcome will reflect the seriousness of the matter."

John Nagle, a Football League spokesman, confirmed: "He [Omoyinmi] played in the second round of the competition while on loan to Gillingham. He then played as a substitute on Wednesday night, which is against the rules. We're now looking into that and speaking to the clubs involved."

There was further good news for Villa yesterday when the FA said it is to take no action against their manager, John Gregory, over his "shoot the ref" comments towards the official Steve Lodge after Wednesday's match. Gregory made the remark after West Ham were awarded a last-minute penalty by Lodge which enabled them to force the game into extra-time.

The Villa manager, currently serving a 28-day touchline ban for a previous outburst, was reported to have said: "I don't think we should have shoot-outs. We should have a shoot-the-ref shoot-out. After that one [the last-minute penalty], the referee should have been shot. If that incident had happened up at the other end, there would not have been a penalty."

However, the FA is satisfied that the comments were made in a light-hearted manner and believes Gregory has no case to answer. Gregory was also deemed by the FA not to be in breach of his touchline ban at Upton Park when he came on to the pitch to give a team talk after normal time and then again before the penalty shoot-out.

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