Disappointing night for Toon stars

Last updated : 04 June 2003 By Martyn Elliott

Aaron Hughes was appointed captain of the Northern Ireland team that faced Italy in Campobasso but they again failed to score, extending their scoring drought to 882 minutes.

The team contained six players making their first international starts and went down to a 2-0 defeat with Lazio’s Bernardo Corradi and Roma’s Marco Delvecchio scoring the goals.

Afterwards Hughes told the BBC: "When you look at our team, there were players making their first appearances and they were not nervous and coped well.

"It was tough for them making their debuts against Italy away from home. I think we did reasonably well overall."

Meanwhile Jermaine Jenas failed to make England’s starting line-up for the pointless friendly against Serbia-Montenegro, with Sven-Goran Eriksson selecting Steven Gerrard, Paul Scholes, Phil Neville and Frank Lampard in midfield.

JJ appeared as a half-time substitute but performed below his best and now looks unlikely to feature against Slovakia next week, with the performance of fellow substitute Joe Cole possibly even pushing him off the bench.