Washington Diplomat Paul Cannell will not ask to be traded by the team, contrary to a sentence that appeared in Saturday's editions.

Striker Paul Cannell said yesterday he "was never really given a chance to play this season" by the Diplomats. And after being placed on the 21-day injurd list yesterday, he isn't counting on things getting better.

The personable Briton probably won't play again this season. He hasn't even been selected to sit on the bench in the last month.

"This whole season has been a joke," Cannell said after a light workout to help strengthen his injured groin. "I do have an injury, but to say it's a 21-day injury is a bit fictitious. But Coach (Ken) Furphy came in and said yesterday that either I had to go on the injured list or he'd have to cut somebody to get down to the foreign-player limit.

"What a position to put somebody in. I agreed, but maybe I shouldn't have. I just didn't want to see one of the young lads get cut from the team. You're in quite a spot when somebody says that."

The groin injury, which Cannell sustained several weeks ago, isn't preventing him from playing. "I'll be fine and dancing in a week," he says. He hasn't played since June 14 when the Dips beat the Sting, 2-1, in Chicago. Tonight, the Dips play Minnesota at RFK Stadium at 7:30.

"I'm really surprised he sounded off like that," said Furphy. "I've chatted with him two or three times and he never told me he was displeased. If he's that unhappy, he can leave tomorrow.

"I don't have anything against Paul," Furphy continued. "He just hasn't performed in training well enough for me to pull another young lad off of the field. Paul admitted to me he wasn't playing well in practice and when he was playing, he didn't do enough to justify being on the first team. Others have shown they are more capable."

"I was never really given a chance to play this season," Cannell contended. "I started the first five games and we were 4-1, then Furphy says Ross (Jenkins) and I can't play together in the front line because of our similar styles. I accepted that. Even though I thought I could do the job, I kept my big mouth shut.

"I can't believe I've been as nice as I have been the last month. But I know the last thing this franchise needs is somebody kicking up dirt and calling people less than muck. I want soccer to do well and stay here. I didn't want to say anything negative, and rock an already shaky boat. I tried my best to be different this time. But I've been silent long enough."

In some ways, Cannell thinks he has been used by the club. When the Detroit Express purchased his contract in January from Calgary, the team owners already were considering moving to Washington.

There was speculation that General Manager Duncan Hill brought Cannell here only as an immediate drawing card, with no intention of including him in the team's future. But Cannell protected himself by signing a two-year, no-cut, no-trade contract.

"It crossed my mind when the Express moved to Washington. I had only been there for the last two or three indoor games. Then pack up and move to Washington. What a coincidence, huh," Cannell said in his loudest, most sarcastic tone. "You can't prove or disprove it, but if the Hills brought me here for that reason, it's the only sensible thing they've done this season."

Cannell insists he will ask to be traded. "If I have to come in, practice, go home, practice, go home, then that's what I'll do," he said. "I love it here. The only decision I've got is whether I'll live in Washington or go back to England. I wouldn't live anyplace else in America."

So for now, Cannell sits and waits. "I hope this takes an upswing," he said. "I don't think it would do any good to talk to Furphy again. I did say to him before, 'Maybe you think that because I'm quiet, I don't care about not playing.' But I've been quiet because this franchise is fragile enough without me spouting off. I do care. Maybe I used the wrong tactic.

"Furphy says I don't try hard enough in practice. Hell, I'm 27 years old. I'm not going to run like a bull and kick people in the shins on that cabbage patch we practice on. I've scored one goal in six or seven starts. That's probably better than the average a lot of players have who are playing."

"Maybe I should become depressed and morose and start slashing tires, or tell people I'm seeing an analyst," Cannell said. "Then maybe people will believe having soccer succeed in Washington is really important to me. Maybe I should have shot my mouth off before things got to this stage.

"I'll just occupy myself with soccer clinics or whatever needs to be done to maintain enough interest to keep soccer here," said Cannell.

"I still think I can be a productive soccer player, but other things make me happy, too. I took a taxi downtown the other day and the driver was telling me he and his family had never seen a soccer game.So I left four tickets for him at the will call. I figured the guy never showed up to get them.

"Then four days later I got this letter from the guy and he said he loved it. He was coming back to the rest of the home games. That's the kind of thing that makes me happy now.

"This season? It's a joke. The people of Washington are the best. They deserve better and I just needed to say it."