Dickov concentrates on club return at Scotland's expense

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The Independent Online

The Leicester City striker Paul Dickov has been left out of the Scotland squad to face Romania in an international friendly on 31 March.

The Leicester City striker Paul Dickov has been left out of the Scotland squad to face Romania in an international friendly on 31 March.

Dickov was one of three Leicester players to be granted bail by a Spanish court earlier this month after being accused of sexual assault in a luxury resort. "I have spoken with Paul at length over the past few days, and we have agreed that, on this occasion, I will not select him for the Scotland squad," the Scotland manager, Berti Vogts, said.

"At present, he just wants to get back to playing for Leicester before he can focus 100 per cent on representing his country. I respect his decision and Paul remains in my plans for the future. I spoke to Paul last Friday, yesterday and the day before. He said that at the moment he feels he has to do something for Leicester. I have to accept this. We will have another chat together when we play the next fixture, in Copenhagen. There is a chance he will be in the squad in Denmark. He needs a little bit of a rest."

Dickov, who has won eight Scotland caps, spent almost a week in a Spanish prison, along with his club-mates Frank Sinclair and Keith Gillespie, following accusations by three women. The three players have denied the allegations.

The uncapped Hearts goalkeeper Craig Gordon and Livingston defender David McNamee have been included in the squad. Gavin Rae, Steven Thompson, Neil McCann and Graham Alexander also return for the match at Hampden Park after missing last month's 4-0 defeat by Wales in Cardiff due to injury.

Vogts also promised supporters that Scotland would definitely qualify for the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany.

It was an extraordinary claim given that the Scots have let in 10 goals without reply in their last two matches and have been drawn in a qualifying group that includes Italy, Norway and no makeweights. But, after last month's 4-0 thrashing in Cardiff, Vogts clearly felt the need to make a bullish pronouncement as he named his squad.

He said: "I will be with my team in Germany in 2006 on the pitch - not in the stands with a hot dog and Coca-cola. Yes, we will be there. We have to fight for wins but we can do that. The last match at Hampden was brilliant, a fantastic football match, and that and only that is my target."

That game was the 1-0 Euro 2004 play-off victory over the Netherlands but Vogts' side lost the second leg 6-0 in Amsterdam. The Dutch result and the 4-0 defeat by Wales that followed led to calls for Vogts to resign.

But the German insisted he would not be leaving and also dismissed suggestions he might be tempted to quit the Scotland job for a similar post with Turkey, whose coach Senol Gunes has stepped down.

He said: "I have an unfinished job here. I am not a quitter. I have to finish the job and then go back to Germany. I love to work here in Scotland."

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