Vogts is ready for Welsh aggression

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The Independent Online
Wales were yesterday compared to an "ice hockey team" by Berti Vogts, the German coach, as the acrimonious build-up to tonight's European Championship qualifier in Dusseldorf continued, writes Rupert Metcalf.

After Jurgen Klinsmann, the Spurs striker, had criticised Vinnie Jones's style of play, Vogts had his say: "The Welsh can't qualify but they will want to annoy us. They have done that in the past. Their game is physical like the top ice hockey teams, but we know the way the British play."

Vogts, whose team look certain to qualify from Group Seven along with Bulgaria, will pick an inexperienced side due to numerous injuries. Lothar Matthaus, Thomas Helmer, Jurgen Kohler, Matthias Sammer and the suspended Andy Moller are all missing. Wales, who are stranded at the bottom of the table, have no new injury worries. "Against Germany you've got to work hard and concentrate for the whole match. If you don't, you'll be punished," Mike Smith, the Wales manager, said.

Injury-hit Northern Ireland, who face Latvia in a Group Six qualifier in Riga tonight, may give a full debut to Barry Hunter, the 26-year-old Wrexham central defender. In the absence of Sunderland's Phil Gray, Iain Dowie of Crystal Palace may play as a lone striker in front of a five- man midfield anchored by Leicester City's Colin Hill.

There was a scare for Reading's Jimmy Quinn, who made the trip to the Baltic republic with his wife's passport in his travel bag instead of his own. Officials at Riga airport initially refused to grant entry to the veteran striker, and only relented when they were presented with a gift of an autographed football from the Irish Football Association.