Football: Shearer boost for England

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After the impressive display by Chelsea's Italian players on Thursday night, England's World Cup hopes were given a boost yesterday when Alan Shearer had the plaster-cast and pin removed from his right leg.

"It's a relief to have the pot taken off. The specialist informed me that everything is going according to plan," said the Newcastle striker, who injured his ankle at Everton in the pre-season Umbro Tournament. "Now I'm looking forward to the next part of my recovery programme."

Kevin Keegan, whose sudden departure from Newcastle was put down to intolerable pressure, may return to management. "You never say never about anything," he said. "I said I would never be a manager but I've been one, although people may not think that I was a very good one. Certainly I would not be put off by my experience at Newcastle."

As part of their build-up to the World Cup finals, England have been invited to play a friendly against South Africa in Johannesburg in May in a match honouring President Nelson Mandela. A decision will be made once England have joined the South Africans in qualifying for the finals.

Tomas Brolin's proposed loan deal to Heart of Midlothian has broken down. The Swede was hopeful of kick-starting his career at Tynecastle after being frozen out at Leeds, but Hearts wanted him on a more permanent basis. The latest development has angered his agents, who denied reports that part of the problem was that the player was unfit.

The League Managers' Association has asked for referees' watches to be linked to stadium clocks to diffuse potential disputes over the length of matches. The LMA wants them to be connected to electronic clocks so players, officials and fans know exactly how long is remaining.

Ajax and Feyenoord are to ban each other's fans from their stadiums. In March, a fight between hundreds of spectators left an Ajax fan dead. Two Feyenoord fans are now serving four years in prison for the murder.