Scots' move for Phillips 'bad news' for England, says Holloway


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The Independent Football

The Blackpool manager, Ian Holloway, has criticised the Football Association for letting his club's winger Matt Phillips choose to represent Scotland over England.

Phillips recently pledged his international future to Scotland, but Holloway believes the midfielder did so only because he was ignored by the country of his birth.

Last summer, Phillips went to South America to represent England at the Under-20 World Cup. Since then his parents have contacted the Scotland manager, Craig Levein, to make him aware their son qualified to play for the national team through his grandparents. Levein has selected the 20-year-old for the friendly in Slovenia a week today.

Holloway is angry that his own country has failed to nail down a player he describes as one of the best he has ever worked with. "I have been in the game a long time and seen an awful lot of players, and I think Matt is good enough to be an England international," Holloway said yesterday. "Unfortunately, he hasn't been noticed – possibly because he isn't at Arsenal, Chelsea or one of those clubs.

"It is great news if you are Scottish, but not quite such good news if you are English. I mean, what more did Matt need to do to get in the Under-21s at least? He wasn't getting picked and I feel a bit irked. My country, I believe, has now lost one of the best players it has ever had. He is going to Scotland. I don't blame Matt at all for that."

Meanwhile, the Sunderland winger James McClean has spoken of his joy after being called into the Republic of Ireland squad for the first time. The 22-year-old was added, along with Derby midfielder Paul Green, to the initial 24-man party named by manager Giovanni Trapattoni earlier this month for the friendly with the Czech Republic at the Aviva Stadium next Wednesday.

However, McClean revealed that he had not been aware of his inclusion until he was inundated with messages on Monday morning.

He said: "I was actually half-asleep and my phone was going mad with text messages. People were wishing me well and telling me to check Sky Sports News as soon as possible, so I got out of bed, went downstairs and turned on the TV. Then I saw on the breaking news bar that I was called up.

"It's the greatest honour any player can achieve and I'm looking forward to linking up with the squad at the weekend."