Football: Moore expected to stand in for Van Hooijdonk

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The Independent Online
WITH 26 goals to his credit this season, Pierre Van Hooijdonk is one of the key figures in Nottingham Forest's ascent to the top of the Nationwide First Division. His absence, therefore, will be keenly felt today as Forest seek to expand on their one-point lead when they visit Stoke City.

For Van Hooijdonk is with the Netherlands in the United States this weekend and any hopes of Forest making it cool Britannia on their trip to the Potteries will rest largely on the shoulders of Ian Moore, in the Dutch striker's stead. Dave Bassett, the Forest manager, has Jon Olav Hjelde standing by should the defender Steve Chettle fail to overcome a back injury.

Their opponents, currently in 19th place, will be hoping that Kyle Lightbourne has shaken off the flu bug that threatens to rule their pounds 500,000 signing from Coventry out of the game. Stoke's striking resourses are further depleted by the loss of their top scorer, Peter Thorne, ruled out with a rib injury, but the winger Danny Tiatto is expected to play on the left.

Bassett's former club, Sheffield United, travel to Birmingham tomorrow in fourth place, just behind Sunderland and Middlesbrough, who meet today. Earl Barrett has extended his loan spell from Everton while Don Hutchison is still a Blades player, although his move to Everton looks likely. He is, though, starting a two-match suspension.

Darren Purse, Birmingham's new pounds 600,000 central defender from Oxford, should make his debut at St Andrew's. Gary Ablett is set to return but Birmingham are still without their leading scorer, Paul Furlong, and the midfielder Chris Marsden, who are both suspended. The midfielder Steve Robinson returns after completing a two-match ban.