Last updated : 31 May 2002 By Little Boy Blue

The Build Up

Any sense of indifference towards the World Cup caused by Bonnie Scotland's, and Holland's, absence from the big show is surely overpowered by the feeling of relief that we won't spend the summer sweating over the possibility of Rangers players suffering injuries. Only Claudio Caniggia and Peter Lovenkrands (thanks again Peter!) will be in the firing line and, while I know we should always want to see our men strut their stuff at the highest level, LBB is losing no sleep over a near Bear-naked World Cup.

There has been no lack of build-up bust-ups as guys who should be team-mates have gone to war before the serious business starts. Gronkjaer and Sand got involved in a Danish ding-dong and Mellberg and Ljungberg got down to fisticuffs in the Swedish camp, having to be pulled apart by Him-wi-the-tongue-doon-tae-his-belly-button. Silly me, I thought John Fartson was football's number one Henry Kissinger!!!

And didn't the Irish do well, going apeshit when Big Bad Roy Keane tossed his rattle out of the pram. What a pantomime! He's going home, no he's not, he is now, he's coming back, if he comes back I'm going home. The entire episode was like something out of a cartoon strip. Keano of The Beano has a nice ring to it, don't you think? What an eejit! Calling Mad Mick McCarthy an English bastard was hardly likely to do Keane any favours. After all, the Irish squad is made up predominantly of Englishmen and as the Tony Cascarino debacle showed more than a few might share Mick¹s dubious parentage!

Those squads who have not had fall-outs to contend with have been hit with injuries. Zidane's knock has given the French a major headache but I certainly don't share their worries. With top notch talent to spare, there shouldn't be too many furrowed brows in their camp. Besides, having scored a peach of a winner in the Champions League Final, if ZZ never kicks a ball in anger again he should still walk away with a smile on his face.

Of course, Becks has been the biggest story of them all. My Far East mole tells me the price of a bottle of the foaming ale is effin extortionate!!! Seriously, Mr Posh Spice looks like making it for Sunday's early morning rise against Sweden but it will be interesting to note just how fit he is. Methinks England might regret rushing him back too quickly.

Inevitably, no tale of woe about injuries would be complete without a Rangers player getting in on the act and Sutton's Cup Final dirty work will keep Oor Argie out of Sunday's clash with Nigeria. But I can't help thinking that Argentina's decision to keep Claudio on hold might be a better long-term move than England's haste to recall Beckham.

Right or wrong? All will be revealed in the weeks ahead as the LBB Diary is updated daily and I'll look forward to belting out a big 'I told you so' when I get it right. And if I'm proved wrong I will be the first to put my hands up and say 'No Excuses'. Then a certain other band of bandits, I might just try to wriggle off the hook.