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FOOTBALL: Easton boys ready for sibling rivalry; CRAIG AND STEWART GOING HEAD TO HEAD.

DUNDEE UNITED v AIRDRIE

THERE are two Easton brothers but there can be just one winner when Dundee United and Airdrie go head-to-head in the Tennent's Scottish Cup on Sunday.

United's Craig, 20, may find himself embroiled in a midfield confrontation with 18-year-old Stewart as the clubs battle for a place in the fourth round.

Scotland Under-21 star Craig will not only be lining up against his brother Stewart but also against his boyhood idols.

And the Scottish Cup clash could bring about a couple of firsts for the Tannadice man.Craig said: "I supported Airdrie as a youngster and I had a season ticket for Broomfield.

"Ironically, I have never played against the Diamonds since I got into the first team here.

"Also I have never come up against Stewart in a competitive game.

"It will be up to Gary Mackay to decide if Stewart will play against United and I know he has been very protective of the younger players at the club.

"Airdrie have been struggling in the League but Stewart has done very well.

"He has had a couple of first-team starts this season so we will just have to wait and see if he plays.

"No matter what happens, it will be a special day all round for the family."

Elder statesman Craig said he would have no hesitation in kicking his younger brother if both are thrown into the midfield arena at Tannadice- but only in self defence.

Craig said: "Stewart will get stuck right in about me and I reckon I'll have to kick my younger brother to protect myself - if I get near him.

"He is slightly taller and is actually a very good player. I don't know if I have been a role model for him but he would never, ever admit that to me."

Easton snr is well aware of Airdrie's recent Scottish Cup pedigree.

He said: "I have seen them over the years and they have always been a good cup team.

"United are looking for a good run in this competition.

"We have already reached the semi-finals of the CIS Cup and the Scottish Cup gives us the chance of doing well in all three competitions."

United manager Paul Sturrock was still absent yesterday because of a stomach bug.

But defenders Siggi Jonsson and Magnus Skoldmark were back in training after suffering similar complaints earlier in the week.

Former Aberdeen striker Jim Hamilton misses the tie, having been signed in a pounds 150,000 deal from Aberdeen last week too late to beat the cup deadline.

However if the Easton family are to go to war in the cup, a lot will depend upon Airdrie boss Gary Mackay, who must decide if Stewart is ready for the demands of the biggest occasion of his short career.

The former Hearts star said: "It is a big occasion for Airdrie as we are travelling up north to play the team that is currently lying third in the SPL.

"All I can ask of my players is that they give their lot both physically and mentally."

James Dick and Gareth Evans are both added to the Diamonds squad and Stewart Easton is in contention.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Haggerty, Anthony
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jan 29, 2000
Words:533
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