Douglas' airport row after missing birth of daughter

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The Independent Online

Berti Vogts, the new Scotland manager, yesterday attempted to defuse reports that he had a heated row with the team's reserve goalkeeper, Celtic's Robert Douglas, as they waited for their delayed flight to Glasgow after Wednesday's 5-0 defeat by France.

Players and officials were astonished to see the 6ft 3in Douglas confront the diminutive Vogts near the check-in point. Amid much finger-jabbing and head-shaking, the pair argued for 10 minutes. The 29-year-old later explained that he was angry at having missed the birth of his daughter in order to sit on the bench when he had understood that he would play in part of the match against the World Cup holders.

Douglas' wife, Debbie, gave birth to a daughter, Brooke, in the early hours of Wednesday. Scottish Football Association officials had looked into the possibility of flying him home to be present, but the timing of the new arrival made it impossible.

"People were emotional after we lost but there was no row," Vogts said. "I never promised he'd play – I told him the day before that Neil Sullivan would play the full match. Douglas has been in the squad two and a half years without winning a cap, but that isn't down to me. Maybe you have to talk to Craig Brown [the previous Scotland manager] about why he hasn't played."

The German added: "I could have easily changed keepers when we were 4-0 down at half-time, but that's not my way." Nor was it Brown's: on the advice of Scotland's goalkeeping coach, Alan Hodgkinson, such substitutions have been rare.

After the airport "discussion", the manager spoke to his captain, Paul Lambert, a club colleague of Douglas's. The two players were then seen conversing intently.

Whatever was said, Vogts intimated yesterday that Douglas had "a very good chance" of making his debut in the match against Nigeria in Aberdeen next month.

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