Football: Adams doubtful as Arsenal look to regain lead

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The Independent Online
Arsenal go into today's north London derby at Tottenham knowing they can go top of the Premiership for the first time since mid-December if they win by two clear goals.

Tony Adams, kept out of England's World Cup qualifier with Italy on Wednesday by injury, has "a 20 per cent chance" of playing, according to Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager. The defender faces a late fitness test on the twisted ankle sustained in Arsenal's 1-0 FA Cup defeat by Leeds 11 days ago. Goalkeeper David Seaman, who also missed the game at Wembley, is definitely out.

Tottenham, who lost 3-1 at Highbury in November and have won just three of 12 games since, also have injury problems. "Any good squad can absorb one or two injuries, but not nine as we had at one point recently," Gerry Francis, the Tottenham manager, said. "To be honest, I would rather Arsenal were still in the FA Cup and we wouldn't have to play them until the end of the season."

In the Nationwide League First Division, Bolton Wanderers hope to extend their nine-point advantage at the top of the table when they meet fourth- placed Sheffield United. Bolton are likely to be without their Danish midfielder Per Frendsen, injured in last week's 3-1 defeat at Reading, and United are without their goalkeeper Alan Kelly, who has a back injury.

Colin Todd, the Bolton manager, is keen to increase his team's lead, saying yesterday: "This is a vital stage of the season for us."

Also at the top of the table, second-placed Wolverhampton Wanderers meet Crystal Palace, who are sixth. Wolves are expected to field an unchanged line-up as they look for a fifth consecutive League win, while Palace are without Ray Houghton and goalkeeper Chris Day through injury.

Third-placed Barnsley, expected to be at full-strength, visit Charlton, who won their first match of the year last week but are without Richard Rufus, Mark Kinsella and Brendan O'Connell, all through suspension.

The pick of the Third Division is the meeting of Fulham and Wigan. Second- placed Fulham are looking to recover from a 2-0 defeat at Lincoln last week, while the leaders, Wigan, ahead on goal difference and with a game in hand, will be confident after beating Carlisle last weekend.

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