Football: Broken bone adds to Shearer's misery

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The Independent Online
Any hopes of a speedy return to action for Alan Shearer disappeared yesterday when the full extent of the injury he sustained last Saturday became apparent.

The England and Newcastle United striker has broken his right fibula, which generally entails around two months' recovery, in addition to the severe damage to the ligaments of both ankles. In all, Shearer could be out for up to nine months.

England's assistant manager, John Gorman, who only arrived home from holiday late last night, said the news could hardly have come at a worse time.

"Alan is a crucial player and what has happened is devastating news for us. Glenn is aware of what has happened and like the rest of us he is devastated to hear about it," he said.

Gorman yesterday spoke to Shearer in his private hospital room by phone and said: "Alan was his typical, positive, usual self. He told me that he knows he's just got to get on with it, but that whatever it takes, he'll get on with it as soon as possible. That's the sort of guy he is."

Newcastle's manager, Kenny Dalglish, yesterday turned to the Republic of Ireland player, Keith O'Neill, as cover.

Dalglish made an inquiry to Norwich City about the powerful attacker, who can play through the middle or down the left wing. The Geordies are willing to pay pounds 4m for O'Neill, who is also a target for newly promoted Bolton, although Norwich are reluctant to sell.

Les Ferdinand said yesterday that Newcastle made a last-ditch attempt to prevent his pounds 6m transfer to Tottenham going through. Their late bid was turned down by the England striker, who was anxious to link up with his former manager at Queen's Park Rangers, Gerry Francis.

"I know that Newcastle spoke to my agents after Alan got injured but my mind was made up," he said. "Once Newcastle decided to sell me and Tottenham were interested there was only going to be one outcome."

Francis will give Ferdinand his debut on Saturday in a testimonial match for David Howells.

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