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Fishy Not Discouraged To play For SA - Curbishley 24/12/03
Charlton Athletic manager Alan Curbishley says that his club has never discouraged their international players from playing for their national teams.

Mark Fish, who has over the past two seasons become a key member of Charlton's defence, has been called up by South Africa for the forthcoming Nokia African nations Cup in Tunisia.

The South East London club has had four of their players retiring from their national teams in the last two seasons.

London-based Shibobo Football's Thapelo Moloantoa caught up with Curbishley yesterday...

Shibobo: Is Mark Fish going to Tunisia?

Curbishley: I don't know, to be fair Fishy has mentioned it. The call-up has come as bit of a surprise, a bit of a shock for us considering the position we are in with injuries.

So I think we will be having further discussions with Fish this week. No decision has been taken yet.

Shibobo: Does that mean he hasn't told you if he wants to go or not?

Curbishley: Fish has mentioned his selection a couple of times in the press, I asked him about it and he said he's been tired, been out of international football for some time. But nevertheless it's on his mind.

You look at Sam Allardyce (Bolton manager) with Jay-Jay Okocha's call up; I think they knew that (Okocha's call-up) was always going to come along.

You look at Harry Redknapp (Portsmouth manager) with Ayekubu Ayekbini's call up to Nigeria, they knew that was always going to come along.

So this is a bit of a surprise and so we'll have to wait and see what transpires in the next couple of days.

When asked if it was not a contradiction that he encouraged a young exciting prospect like Charlton's Scott Parker to play  for a place in the English national team whilst discouraging others like Fish to play for their countries, Curbishley said Charlton had never stopped their players from playing for their countries.

He said that Fish, Bartlett, Dean Kiely (former England goalkeeper) and Bulgarian defender Radostin Kishishev were players who had made individual decisions to retire from their national teams.

Kishishev has since made himself available for Bulgaria's 2004 Euro Championship campaign, which will not affect his position with Charlton as the competition is held over next summer's off-season months.

Curbishley stressed that he recognises the importance of the Nokia African Nations Cup to Africa, "Its like the World Cup for African countries. This is important and they take it very seriously but like I said other players in the other Premiership teams have been talking about going there for some time. The Fish situation happened recently, for us it came as a shock because Fish had retired."


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