Football: Adams is forced to miss start of season

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The Independent Online
THE ARSENAL captain, Tony Adams, will miss the start of the season after undergoing a hernia operation this week. The defender had surgery on his troublesome groin on Tuesday and is expected to be out for at least six weeks.

His absence will be bad news not only for his manager at Highbury, Arsene Wenger, but for the England coach, Kevin Keegan, as well. The 32-year- old defender is set to miss England's two crucial Euro 2000 qualifiers against Luxembourg and Poland.

Adams pulled out of Arsenal's pre-season tour to France in the hope that a rest would spare him from the surgeon's knife. But he was told the only way to cure his groin problem was an operation.

A spokesman for Arsenal confirmed: "Tony had a hernia operation on Tuesday. It went well and he is now back at home recovering." Adams will not be able to return to full training until the end of August, leaving him short of fitness for England's matches with Luxembourg at Wembley and Poland in Warsaw in early September.

He will also miss the start of Arsenal's campaign to recapture the Premiership title, which includes games in August with both Manchester United and Liverpool.

Liverpool's manager Gerard Houllier has refused to rule Michael Owen out of the opening game at Sheffield Wednesday following consultations with the club's doctor.

Reports suggested the 19-year-old would miss the 7 August opener at Hillsborough, but the club claim that scans on the striker's damaged hamstring have revealed he has suffered no major setback in his fight for full fitness. Houllier said: "Michael is all right. The scans have shown up nothing. I am very, very pleased for him first of all but also for the club. He can carry on progressing and should not be too far away for the start of the season."

Harry Redknapp is trying to sign the Australian centre-back Steven Horvat. Horvat, who plays for Hadjuk Split, had a trial with The Hammers last season and could now move permanently to Upton Park.

The defender has had problems gaining a work permit in the past but hopes to have got round the difficulty and a pounds 500,000 move is set up.

The Fulham manager, Paul Bracewell, has made a player- swap bid to sign Bristol City's Ade Akinbiyi in a pounds 3m deal. Bracewell wants the prolific Akinbiyi to partner Stan Collymore in attack and has offered Barry Hayles in part-exchange.

Hayles was Fulham's record buy a year ago, but has since been under pressure for his place. Akinbiyi will be sold by the new City manager, Tony Pulis, at the right price and Fulham are now strong favourites to sign him over the weekend.

Pulis is interested in the swap deal and could also take other Fulham fringe players in the package if it can be arranged in the current talks.