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Friday, November 19, 1999 Published at 10:26 GMT

Keegan accused over late night

Kevin Keegan: Under fire over late night boxing viewing

The FA have defended Kevin Keegan over a late night drinking session after England's 2-0 win at Hampden Park last Saturday.

Battle of Britain
British tabloid newspapers have reported that Keegan and a number of players stayed up until 0600 on Sunday morning.

But the FA say the situation was no different to that at successful club sides, and do not believe the late night affected England before the lacklustre 1-0 defeat in the second leg of the Euro 2000 play-off.

Keegan said it was a "mystery" why his players did not perform well at Wembley.

According to the Daily Mail, midfielder Paul Ince said five players were involved in the late night session, which went on until the world heavyweight boxing title fight between Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield.

"A few of the lads went home after the game on Saturday, but a lot of us stayed up to watch the boxing and we were up until six in the morning," Ince told the paper.

[ image: Late night: Paul Ince during the Wembley game]
Late night: Paul Ince during the Wembley game
"Most managers would have gone to bed at half-past one but not Kevin Keegan.

"He stayed up, played cards and watched the boxing with us.

"That shows the man. He is great and the players love him."

The Mail calls for Keegan's sacking due to what it calls Keegan's "social naivety" and also "tactical ineptitude".

The Sun also has similar comments from Ince, and accuses England of playing "like a pub side".

But FA executives strongly feel that the matter is not an issue for them.

With two experienced doctors on the England staff and three-and-a-half days left before kick-off at Wembley, they believe Keegan did nothing wrong, despite a warning from sports scientists over the limited recovery time before Monday's training and Wednesday's match.

"Kevin Keegan is the England head coach and contracted until the end of World Cup 2002, that is the end of the matter," said an FA spokesman.

No nightclubs

The England coach gave his players a day off on Sunday, with the only proviso being they did not go to nightclubs.

Most went home to their families or played golf, but a handful stayed with Keegan at the squad's hotel.

FA bosses believe this is little different to the rules at many leading clubs, which only govern players not going out late for 48 hours before a major fixture.

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