After a week's worth of protracted negotiations, the Nationwide Conference appear to have won their battle with the Football Association over their right to withdraw their players from next week's friendly non-league international in Belgium.
The new developments mean that Chris Weale, Adam Lockwood, Darren Way and Lee Johnson will not be able to represent England as part of the National Game XI next week. Whilst we share in their disappointment at not being able to wear England colours once again, the issue of losing four talented players at this stage of the season - more than any other Conference side - was no doubt a concern for Glovers manager Gary Johnson.
All sixteen Conference players have withdrawn, but the match will still go ahead with a team selected from the three feeder leagues. FA National Game Director Steve Parkin explained: The FA have long arranged with the Belgium FA to play an international fixture in Ostend, and we were determined to honour this agreement. It is a sad day for those Conference players who have been stopped from representing their country in Belgium next week, however, the disappointment of these players will contrast with the delight of those players that have been called into Paul Faircloughs squad today.
The squad is now no longer an U23 squad with a full age range chosen. Manager Paul Fairclough said of the new squad: The players now have a fantastic opportunity to not only represent their country and wear the 3 Lions, but also potentially put themselves in the frame for the Four Nations Tournament which last year attracted many league scouts. Myself and The FA are extremely grateful to the three Feeder Leagues and all the clubs that have agreed to allow their players to take part in this fixture.
The game in Belgium kicks off at 7pm, and a full match report will be available on The FA Website on Wednesday morning.
Lance Key Kingstonian (GK)
Nickki Bull Aldershot (GK)
Steve Ward Canvey Island
Mike Tomlinson Runcorn FC Halton
Marc Pullan Crawley Town
Adam Wilde Worcester City
Ian Craney Altrincham
Anthony Rivierre Welling United
Tim Sills Kingstonian
Chris Duffy Canvey Island
Jeff Minton Canvey Island
Fiston Manuella Aylesbury United
Roscoe DSane Aldershot
Craig McAllister Basingstoke Town
Scott Rickards - Tamworth
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