No escape for international Blues

CLUB or country? It makes little difference to Roy Keane's men at the moment.

Carl Marston

By Carl Marston

CLUB or country? It makes little difference to Roy Keane's men at the moment.

Ipswich Town's international brigade, searching for some light relief away from the gloom of Portman Road, have had no such respite on the World Cup qualifying scene.

Tamas Priskin has been powerless to prevent Hungary's slide out of the qualifying picture, and he needs a miracle if he wants to appear in next summer's World Cup Finals in South Africa.

Priskin has endured a frustrating first couple of months to this season, mustering just one league goal in Town's winless start to the Championship campaign.

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It's been a similar tale for Hungary. A 3-0 defeat by Portugal last weekend, a third reverse on the bounce, has left the Hungarians needing to beat Group One champions Denmark tomorrow evening.

That could happen, but the second part of the equation - a combination of Malta beating Portugal (by a big margin) and Albania beating Sweden, would represent one of the biggest upsets of all time!

The fact that target man Priskin earned his 22nd cap for Hungary against the Portuguese was of little consolation. He appeared as a second-half substitute.

Similarly, Town defender Gareth McAuley is also set to miss out on a trip to South Africa.

McAuley will be hoping to help mastermind a win for Northern Ireland in the Czech Republic tomorrow evening. But even that is unlikely to be enough to steal a play-off place, unless San Marino (nine defeats in nine games) stun the world by thrashing Slovenia.

Away from Europe, Town winger Carlos Edwards was on the receiving end of another defeat, this time while chalking up his 77th international cap for Trinidad & Tobago.

Hosts Costa Rica cruised to a 4-0 win, although bottom club Trinidad's hopes of qualification had already been ended over the summer.

Closer to home, Town's out-of-favour midfielder Owen Garvan is set to captain the Republic of Ireland under-21s against Switzerland this evening. He led them to a 1-1 draw against Georgia last Friday.

Garvan has not been involved in any of Town's last eight games, and recently turned down a chance to join League One high-fliers Colchester United on loan.