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The numbers behind Arsenal's striker search

By ESPN Staff

Taylor calls for leniency in Ireland row

Players' union boss Gordon Taylor insists Stephen Ireland deserves nothing more than a ticking off for Monday night's bizarre goal celebration.

The Football Association are still to decide whether to take any action against the Manchester City midfielder, who removed his shorts following his matchwinner against Sunderland to reveal a pair of skimpy pants bearing the Superman logo.

City boss Sven-Goran Eriksson laughed off the move, although he did admit the FA may examine Ireland's conduct. Club officials have privately indicated anything more stringent than a minor rap on the knuckles will be met with a strong defence.

Early indications are Ireland will escape without major sanction, which Professional Footballers Association chief executive Taylor believes would be the correct way forward.

'I think it is fair enough just to give him a warning,' Taylor told BBC Radio Five Live.

'I think the Football Association will say `you are not supposed to do that' and it will not happen again.'

Ireland has already endured his fair share of problems this season.

The 21-year-old caused major controversy in his native Ireland in September when he lied about the deaths of both his grandmothers to cover up the fact his partner had suffered a miscarriage.

He then made some ill-advised comments about how much he hated football on a website and last month put his entire international career on hold amid reports, subsequently denied, he had been attacked by some Ireland team-mates over his `new' hairstyle.

'The lad has had serious personal problems,' added Taylor.

'I am sure the whole football world will take an understanding attitude to this.

'Football is about joy and celebrating goals, as long as you don't go over the top.'