Football: Asprilla out for a month

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By overturning a two-goal deficit in the cauldron of Dynamo Kiev's Olympiski Stadium, Newcastle proved that they are a credible force in Europe at last.

However, as Carl Liddle explains, parity was achieved at a high price: injuries to Asprilla and Lee leave the Magpies further depleted.

Faustino Asprilla is facing surgery on a groin injury which will rule him out of the Newcastle side for at least a month. The Colombian injured himself as he lost his balance, after taking a 25th-minute free-kick during the 2-2 draw against Dynamo Kiev on Wednesday.

If Asprilla has snapped a groin muscle he will be out for at least a month, possibly more. Another blow for Newcastle - and England, too - was the recurrence of Robert Lee's thigh muscle strain, which could see him struggle to recover in time for the World Cup qualifier in Italy on 11 October.

Asprilla was seen yesterday by a groin specialist in London and it is likely that he will follow his team-mates Alan Shearer and Darren Peacock in undergoing surgery.

Without the injured Shearer and Asprilla it seems likely the Newcastle manager, Kenny Dalglish, will have to look for a new striker, although Ian Rush is capable of filling the attacking role in the short term.

Newcastle recovered from a two-goal deficit to earn a draw, and although John Beresford scored the first goal and saw his shot deflected in for the second, Dalglish also praised the goalkeeper Shay Given for keeping the Magpies in the game.

Dalglish said: "I know how good he is; he has never had to prove himself to me. His second half show was excellent: he kept us in it during one of the rare periods of Kiev pressure in the second half.

"I would like to think we will do better defensively in future games but, for most of the second half, it was us who were in control even though they were still dangerous."

Beresford feels the Magpies can only get better. "We are gaining confidence all the time. You've just got to look at what Croatia Zagreb [who were beaten by Newcastle in the qualifying round at the start of the season] did on Tuesday night, they beat Grasshoppers 5-0 away from home. I don't really think we've got the credit we deserved in getting through by beating them. It was a great stepping stone and set us up for the League stage."

He added: "When you are away at a team as good as Kiev and you can come back from two-goals down at half-time and get a result we've got to be more than happy.

"We are not going to get carried away with the result in Kiev - I think it is going to be tough at St James' Park - but if we keep going the way we are we shouldn't have too many problems. I think the point in Kiev could prove crucial and I believe it is going to be tough for the other two sides in our group to be able to go there and get a result."

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