When the starters for the Washington Diplomats are introduced to the RFK Stadium fans before tonight's 7:30 game against Tampa Bay, the Dips' most popular player, Paul Cannell, will not be among them.

The effervescent Cannell is not being disciplined; he is a victim of circumstance.

"Ross Jenkins and I have such similar styles that it would be kind of difficult to have us in the lineup at the same time," Cannell said. "I'd like to be starting but all I'm concerned about right now is the team continuing this winning."

Jenkins, acquired from Watford of the English league before the season, and Cannell comprised the team's front line the first four games. Both like to play in front of the goal and are better in the air than on the ground. At 5-foot-11 with good jumping ability, Cannell's head has always been a good target for teammates' crossing balls.

But at 6-5, Jenkins is an even better target. His and Cannell's styles do not complement each other and neither scored a goal in the first four games.

Then, Trevor Hebberd, who started the year as a midfielder, was given a start at forward last week against Toronto and scored a goal.

So, for the time being, Cannell sits.

In goal for Tampa Bay will be the legendary 39-year-old, Kevin (The Cat) Keelan. The Rowdies purchased his contract from Jacksonville yesterday after learning their regular keeper, Winston DuBose, will be sidelined for six to eight weeks with a broken hand he suffered last week.

The Dips yesterday signed Clive Haywood, 20, a forward from Coventry City in England's First Division.