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Sunday, 10 February, 2002, 20:00 GMT
Proctor saga takes new twist
England women's captain Tara Proctor
Tara Proctor has been left in England limbo
Exclusive by BBC Sport Online's Tony Leighton

The playing career of England women's team captain Tara Proctor has been put in limbo a fortnight before the crucial World Cup qualifier against Portugal.

Proctor's already-delayed move from Charlton Athletic to Brighton has now been blocked until next season.

That means the 31-year-old midfielder, who has not played a single match for two months, will play no further club football in a period when she is due to be leading England in the final three games of their World Cup qualifying campaign.

The transfer deadline-day ruling has never been broken and will not be broken now, even for the England captain
FA spokesperson Bev Ward

The situation could set a tricky selection problem for national coach Hope Powell as she prepares not only for the match against Portugal but also meetings with Holland and Germany.

Powell is fiercely loyal to her players and will not drop Proctor from the squad which she announced last week for the Portuguese encounter at Portsmouth on 24 February.

But with the player's lack of match practice, it remains to be seen whether or not the coach will include her captain in the starting line-up.

Proctor's problem at club level has arisen as she is the third player in quick succession to have left Charlton in order to sign for Brighton.

Football Association rules allow the club releasing players to demand a 28-day break between each of them signing for their new club if more than one player departs at more or less the same time.

Proctor's move from Charlton to Brighton has been blocked
Proctor is now barred from club football

In Proctor's case, it meant that she would not have been able to play for Brighton until the middle of March - and transfer deadline day is 28 February.

Football Association spokesperson Bev Ward said: "The transfer deadline-day ruling has never been broken and will not be broken now, even for the England captain."

Charlton could have waived their right to invoke the 28-day ruling but, with an acrimonious background surrounding the departure of not just Proctor but several of her colleagues, they are refusing to budge.

Manager Keith Boanas said: "The club made the original decision on the first two players who went to Brighton and have simply followed that decision through in Tara's case.

"We don't see it as any different from the situation involving those first two players, Emily Arnold and Sarah Wathen."

A distraught Proctor said: "I feel terrible about this, especially after starting training with Brighton in the last few days but obviously from the England point of view too.

"I've spoken to Hope Powell about the situation and she's told me I shall have to prove my fitness, which won't be a problem.

"I shall carry on training with Brighton as well as keeping up my own personal fitness and coaching programme and playing five-a-sides at the leisure centre where I work.

"But I accept that not playing regularly for a club side means lack of match practice, and that's a problem I'll be talking about to Hope and her coaching staff about."

See also:

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