Clough ready to 'kick a ball'

Brian Clough was last night looking forward to "kicking a ball again" as friends dismissed rumours of a serious illness. Speculation was rife after it emerged that the 61-year-old former Nottingham Forest and Derby County manager had been taken into hospital.

Some reports went as far as suggesting that Clough had suffered kidney failure and that his family were holding a bedside vigil. But close friends, who had visited Clough in Derby's East Nuffield Hospital, reported that he was suffering from a chest infection and was already showing signs of recovery.

His hospital visit has also given him the opportunity for doctors to inspect a troublesome knee complaint that goes back to the days when he was forced to quit the game as a result of a serious injury suffered on Boxing Day, 1962.

One of his friends said: "That's come as a bonus for Brian and he's joking about getting out of hospital and looking forward to kicking a ball around again.

"There's been a lot of nonsense written about his illness. The fact of the matter is that he has been troubled with a chest infection for a few days and it got so bad that it was felt the best cause of action was to have a spell in hospital to put things right.

"In the course of doctors examining him, Brian kept complaining about his knee and now they are looking into that problem as well."

Clough, who retired from the game almost three years ago after 18 years in charge of Forest, has had several health scares down the years and it was one of the reasons why he decided to retire from football.