Copenhagen out of bounds for McIlroy's men

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The Independent Football

Sammy McIlroy will try to ensure that the ill-discipline which marred Northern Ireland's visit to Prague is not repeated in Copenhagen after Saturday's World Cup qualifier against the Danes by confining his players to the team hotel following the game.

He hopes to avoid any repeat of the débâcle in June, when the goalkeeping coach, Tommy Wright, and four players were detained by police over a fracas in a bar following the team's last match, against the Czech Republic. Wright, David Healy, Michael Hughes, Peter Kennedy and Glenn Ferguson – who became known as the "Prague Five" – were later released without charge and flew home a day later than the rest of the squad. The Northern Ireland manager will permit his players to have "a couple of beers" after the match, but no one will be allowed to go out in the Danish capital.

McIlroy must do without his assistant, the Morecambe coach Jim Harvey, for the match against the Danes, who lead Group Three. Morecambe did not want to lose Harvey so early in the season and he will join up with the Irish on Sunday when they fly to Belfast for Wednesday's game against Iceland. McIlroy has appointed the Under-21 coach, Alan McDonald, to replace Harvey for the Denmark game.

The Preston striker Healy sat out yesterday's training session because he is still feeling the effects of a dead leg, but McIlroy is confident he will be fit to face the Danes. McIlroy, whose side cannot qualify for the 2002 finals, does not want to lose any more players as he is already without Neil Lennon, Ian Nolan, Mark Williams and Pat McGibbon from his original squad.

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