Gus Hurdle has turned down a chance to play in the World Cup to help Crawley in their relegation fight.

The on-loan midfielder could be playing for Barbados in their World Cup qualifying match against Grenada tomorrow.

Instead, he will take to the field at Dorchester in the Dr Martens premier division, declaring: "The Dorchester match is a bigger game!" Hurdle, 26, has made eight appearances for Barbados, but insists his loyalty is with Reds boss Billy Smith for the crunch match at Avenue Stadium.

Dorchester are two points ahead of Crawley, but have played two games more and the creative midfield general is in the mood for a scrap.

He said: "Crawley's need is far greater than that of Barbados. They'll be able to get a result without me, but it's big match for Crawley and a game we can't afford to lose."

Barbados missed out on the qualifying groups for France 98 after losing the Conga play-off final to Jamaica, who then qualified through the group stages to take their place in the competition proper.

Hurdle is the second player from a Sussex club wanted to play in a World Cup qualifying matches. Bognor's exciting 19-year-old defender Alec Masson had been asked by the Cayman Islands to represent them in a two-legged match against Cuba.

Hurdle is familiar with international football. As well as his eight eight caps, he played for the Caribbean All Stars team that took on Jamaica at the Giants Stadium, New York, last March.

That attracted 40,000 supporters, the largest crowd Hurdle has ever played in front of, beating the previous best, 35,000, which saw him in the Brentford side that lost a Division Two play-off final at Wembley in 1996.

He qualifies for Barbados through his mother and Hurdle believes the profile of football in the Caribbean has never been higher, helped by Jamaica's qualification for the 1998 finals.

Smith is touched by Hurdle's loyalty and said: "He's a good lad. When he was released by Fulham, he came to me at Carshalton and we've been friendly for a few years now. I just hope we can tie him up on-loan until the end of the season."

Reds are at full-strength for tomorrow's trip.

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