FELLOW Scot John McGinlay accused FIFA of going over the top in punishing Wanderers' defender Colin Hendry with a six match ban which could end his international future.

And Reebok boss Sam Allardyce echoed McGinlay's sentiments but he blamed the Scottish media for blowing up the widely publicised 'elbow' incident out of proportion.

Former Wanderers legend McGinlay said: "If Big Colin had been a Brazilian, French, German or English player there's no way they'd have hammered him like they did.

"They've made an example of him because he's not such a high profile player and, as far as FIFA is concerned, it's only Scotland.

"The sentence wouldn't have been anywhere near as harsh if he'd been a big name player with one of the major nations."

And Allardyce said: "I think the Scottish Press have to take a lot of stick for how badly they promoted it.

"They've had a vendetta against him. It was wrong what he did and he knows it was wrong but it was blown up by a lot of media hype and over-exposure, which resulted in a much bigger punishment than I expected. Realistically, I thought two or three matches would have been enough."

Scotland captain Hendry, who has a virus and is struggling to be fit for Wanderers' vital Roses battle at Barnsley tomorrow, is awaiting a transcript of the verdict before deciding whether to appeal against the sentence.

He was banned and fined £4,000 by FIFA after being found guilty of violent conduct against San Marino's Nicola Albani in last month's World Cup qualifier at Hampden Park.

Hendry said he was "stunned and disappointed" at the severity of the sentence which, if he accepted it, could bring a premature end to his 51-match international career.

"I am awaiting a full written submisssion from FIFA, pending an appeal," he added, "and I don't think it is helpful to say any more at this time."

McGinlay, one of the all-time Wanderers' heroes, played the majority of his 14 internationals for Scotland alongside the inspirational Hendry and knows the 35-year-old defender well. Although the elbowing incident was clearly caught on camera, he insists it was out of character and knows the punishment will have deeply wounded the player he holds in such high esteem.

"It's a major blow to Scotland because Colin's the captain and was in a rich vein of form," he explains, "but for Colin himself it's absolutely devastating.

"I know him, I roomed with him and, like me, he's from the Highlands so we've both got similar backgrounds.

"I know playing for Scotland means a hell of a lot to him and six games ... that's a long time to be out of international football. And all because of one rash moment.

"The big fella gives as good as he gets but you wouldn't class him as a dirty player. Whatever Colin dishes out, he gets double back.

"Purely from a selfish point of view, not playing for Scotland means he'll be able to focus entirely on playing for Bolton. But that's no comfort to Colin at the moment and no help to Scotland, who might have lost their skipper and probably their most influential player."

David Taylor, chief executve of the Scottish FA, confirmed the association was also considering an appeal against the sentence. He said: "I am disappointed at the severity of the punishment, given the circumstances of the incident and the player's previous good record."

National team boss Craig Brown says he would be disappointed if the San Marino game, before which Hendry had been inducted into the Scotland Hall of Fame and in which he scored two of the goals in a 4-0 win, turned out to be his last.

"Obviously I don't want a player to have his last game to be one that has ended in controversy," Brown said. "It would be a terrible way for him to go out."