Collins gets FIFA pardon

 

John Collins has been given the all-clear to play in Scotland's opening World Cup fixture. The Monaco midfielder picked up two yellow cards in the qualifying campaign, and it was feared he would miss the first match in France next summer. But FIFA yesterday agreed to an amnesty for players who earned one or two yellow cards on the road to France.

Collins, who was outstanding in the qualifiers, had two bookings. He is expected to be a key player for Scotland next summer, after flourishing in his adopted homeland.

He has scored nine goals in 46 appearances, but his ability to slice open opposing defences has been vital for Scotland.

Scotland international striker Darren Jackson, meanwhile, has been named in the Europe squad to face the rest of the world before the World Cup draw on Thursday.

He was recommended by Brown after Gary McAllister was forced to withdraw because of injury.

Jackson has made a remarkable recovery after brain surgery in September, and this date in Marseilles will give him a massive lift.

He will line up alongside the likes of England's Paul Ince, Alen Boksic, of Croatia, and Dutchman Patrick Kluivert.

George Graham has attacked Leeds' Premiership title aspirations this season as "ridiculous" - but knows he is under pressure to restock United's trophy cabinet sooner rather than later.

Graham yesterday become one of Britain's highest-paid managers by signing a new long-term contract, believed to be for four years and worth £1-million-a-year, and so taking the Elland Road club into the next millennium.

The deal puts Graham in the same pay bracket as Manchester United's Alex Ferguson, Kenny Dalglish at Newcastle and Blackburn's Roy Hodgson.

The agreement not only ties Graham to 2001 but also issues a `hands-off' warning to any club considering poaching one of the country's most successful managers of the last 10 years.

But that success also has its drawbacks as Graham is now expected to propel Leeds back among the "big-boys" of the Premiership and deliver long-awaited silverware to the club.

Graham, who has consistently played down his side's championship hopes, and chairman Peter Ridsdale have singled out a place in next season's UEFA Cup as their initial aim.