Repka's Back

Glenn Roeder is tipping Czech Republic defender Tomas Repka to bounce back in style as he returns from his two match suspension at Charlton Athletic tonight.

Tomas, who missed the second-leg of his country's World Cup qualifying play-off against Belgium because he had been sent off in the first, has, says Glenn Roeder, been the victim of rough justice recently.

"He is a defender of the highest quality and you could easily have argued that he was the best player on the pitch before he was sent off against Belgium in Brussels," he says.

"He hadn't put a foot wrong and I was really enjoying watching his performance, and that was why I was disappointed in the manner that he got sent off.

"I have looked at the video a dozen times, and, although he catches the Belgian player, he catches him on the arm.

"But he collapses as if he has been hit in the face, he is rolling over and squirming on the ground, and I find that sort of thing unacceptable.

"I come from an era where you just stood up and got on with it, but I suppose we live in a different world now.

"But it is disappointing when that Belgian player then gets up and jogs back to the half way line as if nothing has happened once he saw Tomas has got the red card."

Stung by criticism from some sections of the Czech press - and even his captain Pavel Nedved, who was subsequently sent off in the second game - he has openly contemplated retiring from international football.

But Glenn says: "I wouldn't encourage him to retire from the Czech team; I think more than ever now, because they haven't qualified for the World Cup, they need Tomas Repka to carry on playing."

Tomas returns to the Valley after a second red card for West Ham, but Glenn insists again that there has been a miscarriage of justice on both occasions.

"He has been unfortunate," stresses the Hammers chief.

"If you go through the four yellow cards that have resulted in him having to go off twice for us, they were the result of quite innocuous challenges.

"He is just going through a period where he has been unlucky; there have been other high profile players in recent years that have had a succession of sendings off where they have been unfortunate.

"He is not a dirty player; he is certainly tough, and a defender that lets strikers know they have been in a game when they play against him.

"He doesn't take prisoners, but he is a very fair defender and there is no nastiness in him when he goes to win the ball - he is just a tough guy.

"You can see how our supporters have responded to him already; they really enjoy the way he plays.

"I'm very comfortable with Tomas Repka and I only wish I could find another two or three like him."