Football: Anxious wait for Hillier

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DAVID HILLIER, Arsenal's 23-year- old midfield player, is facing an uphill struggle to be fit in time for the FA Cup final on 15 May.

He was yesterday ruled out of Arsenal's remaining eight Premier League games - plus the Coca-Cola Cup final on 18 April - after partially rupturing the medial ligament in his right knee during Tuesday's 1-0 defeat at Middlesbrough. 'David will probably be out for the rest of the season, but all efforts will be made to get him fit for the FA Cup final,' a spokesman for the Highbury club said.

Hillier was injured as he tackled Middlesbrough's Andy Peake after only eight minutes of the game at Ayresome Park. Peake appeared to fall on Hillier's leg as both players crashed to the ground after a tackle. His absence from the Coca-Cola Cup final against Sheffield Wednesday adds to the problems faced by George Graham, the Arsenal manager.

Graham's regular right-back, Lee Dixon, will be suspended - and Hillier was a candidate to switch from midfield to fill in. Martin Keown, Arsenal's recent signing from Everton, is cup-tied for both cups, while Dixon's other deputy, Pal Lydersen, is recovering from an ankle operation.

The FA is to hold an inquiry into the deals which have brought three Australians to British clubs: Mark Bosnich of Aston Villa and Shaun Murphy and Bob Catlin of Notts County. There have been allegations that payments were made to an agent.

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