Taylor happy to exclude Collymore

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The Independent Online

The latest, wretchedly predictable twist in the Stan Collymore saga cast a shadow over Leicester City's arrival in the Austrian capital yesterday, Peter Taylor admitting he would rather have fielded a rookie striker tonight than one who "didn't give a monkey's" for the club.

The latest, wretchedly predictable twist in the Stan Collymore saga cast a shadow over Leicester City's arrival in the Austrian capital yesterday, Peter Taylor admitting he would rather have fielded a rookie striker tonight than one who "didn't give a monkey's" for the club.

The Leicester manager, whose team are locked at 1-1 with Red Star Belgrade after an acrimonious first leg of their first-round Uefa Cup tie, revealed that he had planned to start Collymore on the neutral territory of the Gerhard Hanappi Stadium. That, however, was before his lethargic display as a substitute against Everton on Sunday.

Already unhappy with Collymore's burgeoning weight and wage demands, Taylor made his displeasure plain to the striker. The former England player was transfer-listed at his own request and left out of the party for Vienna, even though Leicester dispute his claim to be troubled by a sore ankle.

Taylor, aware of Collymore's popularity with sections of the Leicester crowd, is braced for a backlash should their European adventure end this evening. "If we lose, people will say it was because Stan didn't play," he said. "But we have not lost this season and he has started only once."

The former England Under-21 coach added pointedly: "What I'd say to the fans is that there is nothing more important than Leicester City. And there was a person playing on Sunday who didn't give a monkey's about your club. He wasn't committed and his performance was only good when the ball came to him. If he played like that in a live TV game when he could have been a hero by putting us top of the Premiership, my guess is that he might have played exactly the same out here."

Taylor's decision to wash his hands of Collymore on the eve of a major fixture leaves him treading a fine line between standing firm and looking foolhardy. With Leicester averaging only a goal per game and his £5m forward from Wolves, Ade Akinbiyi, nursing a hamstring injury, it represents a genuine gamble.

Gerry Taggart (knee) and Andrew Impey (ankle) are also receiving treatment. Yet whatever line-up Taylor sends out against a side who are also unbeaten, he has no qualms about the character of those who are here. The Red Star coach, Slavo Muslin, is confident Leicester have only spirit and work-rate to offer, labelling them a long-ball team with little skill.

Taylor, whom Muslin derided as "not an English gentleman" following a touchline disagreement at Filbert Street, conceded that they were not at their best. Equally, although Red Star impressed with their quickfire counter-attacks, he was encouraged by their slack defending. "Their away goal means we need to score, but we mustn't go crash, bang, wallop. In the first half-hour it's more important not to concede than to score."

He also believes that the atmosphere - less intimidating than a 52,000 full house in Serbia would have been - will be to Leicester's advantage. Only a sixth of the 19,600 seats is expected to be filled, mostly by day-trippers from the East Midlands, a sight that will doubtless confirm Red Star's view that there is a conspiracy against them.

"They thought the world was against them at our place," said Taylor. "But what's happening on the streets of Belgrade shows what a good decision Uefa made in switching the game." Leicester, their solidarity arguably enhanced by Collymore's absence, will want to demonstrate that refusing to admit defeat is not the exclusive preserve of Yugoslav presidents.

Red Star Belgrade (3-4-1-2; probable): Kocic; Bunjevcevic, Matijasevic, Lalatovic; Markovic, Lerinc, Boskovic, Vitakic; Asimovic; Drulic, Pjanovic.

Leicester City (3-5-2; probable): Flowers; Rowett, Elliott, Taggart; Impey, Lennon, Izzet, Savage, Guppy; Akinbiyi, Eadie.

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