Football: Dibble steps up to replace Schwarzer

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The Independent Online
MIDDLESBROUGH are travelling well this season, and today's visit to Nottingham Forest gives them a chance of a fourth away win in a row, which would extend their lead at the top over Forest to six points.

They will have to do it without goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, who aggravated a thigh injury during the victory over Crewe in midweek. The former Welsh international, Andy Dibble, steps up for his first appearance of the season. Nigel Pearson will return after injury but Andy Townsend and Paul Merson face fitness tests.

The Forest manager, Dave Bassett, has a few injury doubts himself, with Scot Gemmill's ankle and Steve Stone's hamstring. Steve Chettle is set to return after missing the midweek draw at Tranmere.

Sunderland, in third place, four points behind Forest, add Darren Williams and Michael Bridges to the squad that beat Huddersfield last Tuesday for the visit of Ipswich, who are not far behind in sixth place. Both Williams and Bridges proved their fitness in the reserves in midweek, but Peter Reid is expected to keep the side that won at the McAlpine Stadium.

Tony Mowbray, the Ipswich captain, is struggling with a groin strain, but he is the only worry for the manager, George Burley, who has Adam Tanner standing by. The England Under-21 goalkeeper, Richard Wright, will play despite 13 stitches in his face, while the striker James Scowcroft will be on the bench as Burley again pairs the in-form Alex Mathie and David Johnson.

At the other end of the table, Paul Hall and Fitzroy Simpson, who have spent the last six games on international duty for Jamaica, are both available for Portsmouth, who entertain Tranmere. The former Southampton defender Matt Robinson makes his home debut and, Steve Claridge, on loan from Leicester City, continues in attack after having his period extended to a second month.

Tranmere welcome back John Morrissey from suspension, while defender Alan Morgan is also likely to play despite being in pain from a knee injury.

One place above Pompey are Manchester City, whose veteran defender Ian Brightwell will miss the visit of West Bromwich with a hamstring recurrence. Murtaz Shelia and Richard Edghill are also struggling to be fit, though slightly more encouraging for the City manager, Joe Royle, is Georgi Kinkladze's recovery from an ankle injury.

Lee Hughes has been ruled out for West Brom with a hamstring problem suffered during Tuesday's defeat to Portsmouth. Central defender Matt Carbon is set to return after a thigh strain.