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Friday, 12 April, 2002, 15:29 GMT 16:29 UK
Hughes and Kennedy out of NI squad
Wigan Athletic full-back Peter Kennedy has been forced to withdraw from the Northern Ireland sqaud for the friendly against Spain.
McIlroy will be without Peter Kennedy against Spain.

Two players have withdrawn from the Northern Ireland squad for the friendly against Spain at Windsor Park on 17 April.

Birmingham City's on-loan winger Michael Hughes and Wigan Athletic full-back Peter Kennedy have both been forced to pull out through injury.

Hughes has a niggling ankle injury while Kennedy has not sufficiently recovered from his long-term knee problem.

The withdrawals will come as a major blow to McIlroy, particularly considering the large number of players who pulled out of the last friendly in Liechtenstein.

McIlroy spoke then of his frustration at losing players for matches which are vital to his preparations for the Euro 2004 qualifying campaign.

Northern Ireland manager Sammy McIlroy will be hoping there will be no more withdrawals from his international squad.
Sammy McIlroy has lost two of his players

Hughes' injury will rule him out for the rest of the season and could place his proposed move to Birmingham in doubt.

The diminutive attacker has started just three matches since his long-awaited move to the Blues and will play no further part in their push for a play-off place.

He has returned to his club Wimbledon for treatment.

Spain, meanwhile, have recalled Lazio midfielder Gaikza Mendieta to their 18-man squad for what is their final World Cup warm-up game.

But there was no room for fellow midfielder Pep Guardiola, who recently returned to action for Brescia after a four-month ban for testing positive for the steroid nandrolone.

Coach Jose Antonio Camacho said there would be only minor changes to the squad before the World Cup in South Korea and Japan.

Strike partnership

The two Serie A players are short of match practice - Mendieta has been sidelined by Lazio - but Camacho said this would not be an obstacle to their selection for the World Cup.

Valencia midfielders Ruben Baraja and David Abelda were recalled but Barcelona's Luis Enrique was not included, in spite of his fine form since his return from injury.

Iker Casillas has kept his place as keeper alongside Santiago Canizares despite being dropped by Real Madrid.

Defender Fernando Hierro, the midfielder-cum-defender Ivan Helguera and the strike partnership of Raul and Fernando Morientes are the four other Real players in the squad.

Barcelona are represented only by defender Carles Puyol.

Spain Squad: Goalkeepers: Santiago Canizares (Valencia), Iker Casillas (Real Madrid). Defenders: Carles Puyol (Barcelona), Juanfran (Celta Vigo), Fernando Hierro (Real Madrid), Miguel Angel Nadal (Real Mallorca) Curro Torres (Valencia). Midfielders: Sergio (Deportivo Coruna), Juan Carlos Valeron (Deportivo Coruna), Gaizka Mendieta (Lazio), Joaquin (Real Betis), Ivan Helguera (Real Madrid), Javi De Pedro (Real Sociedad), David Albelda (Valencia), Ruben Baraja (Valencia). Forwards: Diego Tristan (Deportivo Coruna), Fernando Morientes (Real Madrid), Raul (Real Madrid).

See also:

10 Apr 02 |  Football
McCourt wins NI call-up
27 Mar 02 |  World Cup 2002
NI held by lowly Liechtenstein
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