Ferdinand plans to return at Forest

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The Independent Online
Les Ferdinand is aiming to emulate Alan Shearer by making an early return to a Newcastle United side who have failed to win all five games they have played without him.

When the Magpies leading scorer fractured his cheek bone against West Ham United at St James' Park a fortnight ago, it was feared that he would be out for six weeks.

That was reduced to a month after an operation and he is now looking at a return to first-team football against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground a week today.

If he makes it, Ferdinand would only have been out of action for just over three weeks - a recovery period even shorter than Shearer's, who returned to the fray at Chelsea last Saturday 34 days after a second operation on his groin.

Ferdinand, who will see his specialist today, said: "I hope to get the all-clear to return to full training with the rest of the lads. And all being well I would like to put myself in contention for the game at Forest.

"I think the main concern is that because of the way I play and that heading is an obvious part of my game, there is a fear I could fracture my cheekbone again."

Blackburn Rovers could lose out to Lazio in the contest to secure the services of the Swedish coach Sven-Goran Eriksson.

Rovers, who have been under the temporary care of Tony Parkes since Ray Harford's departure, had thought that Eriksson was in the final stages of negotiating an early release from Sampdoria. However, Lazio, who are having a disappointing season in Serie A, are understood to have approached him.

The Albanian Prime Minister, Aleksander Meksi, will today make proposals which he hopes will lead to his country being reinstated into international football and allow their World Cup qualifier in Northern Ireland to go ahead.

Albania were banned by Fifa when the sports ministry ordered the suspension of the Albanian Football Association general secretary, Eduard Dervishi, and dissolved the executive committee.

The Fifa ban has put Albania's World Cup qualifying match in Belfast on 14 December in jeopardy. The Northern Ireland FA has urged Fifa to clarify the situation by tomorrow.

Meksi is to propose an annulment of decisions relating to the suspensions of the Albanian federation officials. He also appealed to the federation and the state sports secretariat to put aside their differences.