Thatcher attacks Toshack 'taunts'

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The Independent Football

The Manchester City defender has made himself unavailable for the Group Six games with Northern Ireland in Belfast on Saturday and against Azerbaijan in Cardiff next Wednesday. Thatcher claims that a "gentleman's agreement" not to air their differences in public has been broken by Toshack.

The breakdown of the relationship between the pair, claimed Thatcher, came in a mobile phone row in which Toshack claimed Thatcher was scared to play in Poland because of what had happened involving Thatcher when the countries met in Cardiff last year. Thatcher was alleged to have stamped on Polish midfielder Kamil Kosowolski, and was then banned for two matches, with the Poland return in Warsaw his first game back.

Toshack admitted last week that there had been a frank exchange of views.

Thatcher said: "The manager has questioned my commitment and credibility in public and I feel I have no choice but to defend myself.I would have absolutely relished a battle in Poland. I will not be spoken to by anyone in the manner he spoke to me on the phone. The whole tone was in a taunting fashion, accusing me of ducking out of the game."