Blades try to lift star after international nightmare

SHEFFIELD United manager Bryan Robson will begin the delicate process of repairing Keith Gillespie's confidence when the Northern Ireland winger returns to training at Shirecliffe.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 13th September 2007, 10:09 am
Updated Thursday, 13th September 2007, 12:12 pm

Gillespie's own goal just a minute from time against Iceland last night sent his country crashing to their second successive Euro 2008 qualifying defeat and left their hopes of reaching next year's finals hanging by a thread.

Northern Ireland, now third in Group F behind leaders Sweden and Spain, were on the brink of claiming a creditable draw until Gillespie got his bearings wrong under pressure from substitute Eidur Gudjohnsen after Gretar Steinsson's pass.

Having seen David Healy cancel-out Armann Bjornsson's opener it was a cruel blow for the visitors following Saturday's reverse in Latvia; a match also settled by an own goal, this time from captain Chris Baird.

With Gillespie likely to figure prominently in Robson's plans for Saturday's Championship fixture against Wolverhampton Wanderers, United will be keen to ensure that he makes a speedy recovery from his torment in Reykjavik.

Nigel Worthington, who took charge of the province following Lawrie Sanchez's departure, paid tribute to Gillespie's strength of character, saying: "It was a cruel way to lose but that is football. Sometimes you do not get what you deserve."

With Sweden next up followed by qualifiers against Denmark and Spain, Northern Ireland will probably need to win all three to have a chance of going through but Worthington added: "We can learn from what happened tonight and go to Sweden in good heart after this performance. We have got to keep our heads up."

Meanwhile, United, who have allowed goalkeepers Jamie Annerson and Stephen Hernandez to join Rotherham and Worksop on loan, believe they will be allowed to introduce new evidence to the court set to consider their legal action against West Ham for breach of trust following the club's relegation from the Premiership last term.

West Ham were found guilty of breaking the rules governing third party ownership of players by an FAPL tribunal but escaped a points deduction and subsequently retained their top-flight status at United's expense.

United have twice failed to overturn that verdict but previous investigations were only allowed to consider material submitted to the original disciplinary commission.

Crucially, United believe they will now be allowed to submit new papers to the court which will allow it to consider why West Ham paid Kia Joorabchian, Carlos Tevez's owner, a substantial sum to trigger his recent move to Manchester United.

Click here for the latest news and gossip in the world of football.