Rugby: Pitcher earns call-up

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The Independent Online
GEOFF PITCHER. the Kingstonian midfielder, has been rewarded for a man-of-the-match display in last weekend's FA Umbro Trophy final, with a call-up to the England semi-professional squad for two fixtures this weekend.

Pitcher, who has also played for Colchester United and Watford, was the creative influence behind Kingstonian's 1-0 Wembley win over Forest Green Rovers. "I knew he was a fine player, and Saturday's performance merely confirmed that," John Owens, the England manager, said.

Tonight's game against Scotland's Highland League at Chesham is not recognised as an international, so Owens' team takes the field as a Football Association XI. Caps will be awarded, however, for Sunday's match against Wales at St Albans.

In their two previous internationals this season, England beat Italy 4-1 at Hayes and drew 1-1 in the Netherlands. Rushden's Paul Underwood and Doncaster's Simon Shaw, who were in the squad for those two games, are injured and miss out this weekend. Also absent are Woking's Michael Danzey, who is getting married, and Yeovil's Murray Fishlock.

Owens has picked five Cheltenham Town players, even though they will be ineligible next season due to the club's promotion to the Nationwide League. "The players picked for England this season have responded well, and deserve to be rewarded by keeping their places," the manager said.

The Highland League squad has four players from the champions, Peterhead, who have ambitions of election to the Scottish Football League. Wales' squad includes former Manchester United forward Deiniol Graham.