Sat, Dec

Port Vale winger Chris Birchall is caught in a club versus country struggle which could result in him missing the Valiants' pre-season campaign.

Birchall had intended missing Trinidad and Tobago's Gold Cup games to be part of Vale's build-up to the new season, which begins on August 6. However, national coach Leo Beenhakker is insisting the 21-year-old winger plays in the United States-based Gold Cup tournament, which runs from July 6-24.

Vale manager Martin Foyle says he will leave the final decision to Birchall, but has made clear he wants the player to rest.

Foyle is now waiting for a decision from Beenhakker after asking the former Real Madrid and Ajax coach to excuse the player from the Gold Cup.

Birchall said: "I had intended to stay at Port Vale for pre-season, but Leo Beenhakker has phoned me to say how much he needs the squad together. He is adamant he wants me there.

"I am in a no-win situation and that can't be helped. But the managers are discussing it and I am happy to do whatever they come up with."

If Foyle fails to persuade Beenhakker to change his mind, Birchall could be gambling with his World Cup chances if he pulls out of the squad.

He made his full debut for Trinidad and Tobago earlier this month, playing two World Cup qualifiers in which the Caribbean republic kept alive their chances of reaching the finals in Germany next summer.

Foyle is happy for Birchall to play in the five remaining World Cup qualifiers, which take place between August and October, but says he will be disappointed if the player also competes in the 12-team Gold Cup.

The Vale boss had planned to give Birchall an extra week off as he is concerned the player has been playing since the start of last season.

Instead, the winger could be joining the national squad for a Gold Cup training camp next Monday before competing in matches in Miami on July 6, 9 and 11 against Honduras, Panama and Colombia respectively.

If Trinidad and Tobago qualify, they could play three further games.

Foyle said: "I have explained Chris is shattered mentally and physically and that I was going to give him time off. They want to call him up, but they are going to let me know what they decide."