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Snow may ruin Capello's Russia plans

BELFAST, United Kingdom (AFP) –

A tractor clears drifting snow from the A6 road near the town of Buxton in north-west England, on March 22, 2013

A tractor clears drifting snow from the A6 road near the town of Buxton in north-west England today. Fabio Capello’s Russia face an anxious wait to see if tonight’s World Cup qualifier against Northern Ireland will be scuppered by heavy snow in Belfast.

Fabio Capello’s Russia face an anxious wait to see if Friday’s World Cup qualifier against Northern Ireland will be scuppered by heavy snow in Belfast.

Former England coach Capello and his players trained on Thursday ahead of the qualifier, but overnight snow and and rain has made the Windsor Park pitch a major concern.

Linfield’s stadium is among the more basic in international football and it does not have much in the way of defences against the elements.

The Irish Football Association this morning released the following statement: “The referee (Norway’s Tom Hagen) will inspect the pitch this morning as part of his normal duty.

“We will keep you updated throughout the day.”

Ground staff at Windsor Park will try to clear the snow off the pitch, but more is expected to fall before the 1945GMT kick-off.

If the match is postponed it would be rearranged for Saturday.

It would be the first time a competitive international fixture in Belfast has had to be called off because of the weather.

Meanwhile, the snow has also forced the closure of the runway at George Best Belfast City Airport.

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