Football: Ndah joins Swindon's promotion push

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The Independent Online
Bryan Robson's Middlesbrough travel to Swindon today knowing they can go above their opponents if they win. It would be unwise, however, for them to underestimate their promotion rivals.

While just three points and two places separate the clubs at the moment, a much greater divide exists between their respective resources, but Swindon have thus far been able to sustain their promising start to the season.

Yesterday, as the Wiltshire side completed the pounds 400,000 signing of Crystal Palace striker George Ndah, Middlesbrough's assistant manager Viv Anderson insisted Swindon have all the credentials to claim a Premiership place next season.

"People may wonder whether Swindon can sustain their run, but Barnsley were promoted last season - if you work hard for one another you get success," he said. "We are in confident mood after the Coca-Cola Cup win over Bolton in midweek, but the Swindon game will not be easy."

Ndah is likely to make his debut for Swindon, with Chris Hay, their top scorer, suspended. The on-loan Tony Warner will retain his place, as Swindon's two other goalkeepers are injured. Middlesbrough will welcome the return of Nigel Pearson and Andy Townsend, both rested in midweek.

The other big match of the day is at the City Ground between the leaders Nottingham Forest and sixth-placed Charlton, who lie five points adrift of their opponents.

Like Anderson, Forest's manager Dave Bassett is full of admiration for his Charlton counterpart, Alan Curbishley, who has masterminded a determined promotion challenge despite meagre resources.

"Alan has done a marvellous job at Charlton," said Bassett, who is used to managing on a shoestring from his time at Wimbledon.

Forest are likely to field a side unchanged from last week, when they beat Birmingham, while Charlton may have strikers Mark Bright and Steve Jones back in contention.

Manchester City manager Frank Clark attempts to lift his side away from the relegation zone against Bradford City at Maine Road. Clark's men lie just a point off bottom place having collected only nine points from a possible 27 at home this season.

The Maine Road captain, Kit Symons, said: "Everyone can see the quality we have got in the squad, there is no doubting that. It's getting it together at the right time that has become the problem. But there is no good having this potential, we have got to get out there and prove it. We know we are capable of doing that, it's the frustrating thing for us as well as the crowd.

"It's just as infuriating for us as it is for them. But the one positive thing is that the team spirit and morale throughout the camp has remained at a reasonable level."

Sheffield United, denied the chance to move above Middlesbrough into fourth place with a 1-1 draw at Bradford City on Tuesday, travel to Port Vale with the Blades' manager, Nigel Spackman, likely to field an unchanged team.

Sunderland will be without seven players for their trip to Bury and have sold Chris Byrne to Stockport for pounds 250,000 after he failed to settle in the north-east. Bury will include Kenny Dalglish's son, Paul, in their side, having signed the midfielder on loan from Newcastle until the end of the season - just hours after Newcastle signed Dalglish Jnr from Liverpool.

- Nick Harris

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