FOOTBALL: Buoyant City in positive mood

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The Independent Online
Brian Horton, Manchester City's beleaguered manager, has promised to go for broke in tonight's relegation battle with Wimbledon at Selhurst Park.

City are in a buoyant mood after their coming back from two goals down to beat Sheffield Wednesday at Maine Road on Saturday but Horton warned: "We are not out of the woods yet. We will not be going there looking for just one point. The Premiership is a crazy league. Win a couple and you are looking at Europe, lose one and you are facing a relegation fight.

Horton will stick with the the striking partnership of Uwe Rsler and Paul Walsh, with Niall Quinn again having to settle for a place on the substitutes' bench.

Wimbledon, who overcame Crystal Palace on Saturday, will be without two key players for the match. England's Warren Barton and another defender, Alan Kimble, are both suspended. Oyvind Leonhardsen and Peter Fear could start the match.

Middlesbrough will go back to the top of the Endsleigh League First Division if they beat their north-east rivals, Sunderland, at Roker Park.

Bryan Robson, the Middlesbrough manager, hopes his team will have recovered from recent promotion setbacks, including the 4-2 home defeat by Derby at the weekend.

"I am hoping it was a one-off home performance and that we get a bad game out of our system,'' Robson said. "Derby games like the Sunderland one are often frantic and played with a lot of passion. Generally, the team that can show some composure comes out on top.

"I do not like to see a north- east team struggling. I would prefer Sunderland to be up challenging for the play-offs, because that would give the area a boost. But I am more concerned with my own team's performance."

Reading will hoping to boost their promotion hopes when they entertain Oldham while Barnsley travel to Watford.

Graham Taylor is facing a major selection headache as he prepares for tomorrow's FA Cup quarter-final replay with Crystal Palace at Molineux. The winners will meet the champions and Cup holders, Manchester United.

Taylor has been forced to add the key midfielders, Geoff Thomas and Mark Rankine, to a casualty list that also includes Gordon Cowans, John de Wolf, Tony Daley and Stephen Froggatt.

Thomas and Rankine were both injured during Saturday's 1-1 draw with Watford and Taylor admitted: "My job now is to try and pull the white rabbit out of the hat.

"At the moment things don't look too clever for Geoff. He came back into the side on Saturday, scored the goal but then suffered a new problem with the same knee that he has had surgery on.

One piece of good news is that the striker, Steve Bull, should be back for the the match after missing the draw with Watford due to a dead leg.

Taylor also bemoaned the fixture congestion that could mean that his team, who are also battling to get promotion to the Premiership, may have to play four matches in the final week of the season.

"We play Crystal Palace in the Cup on Wednesday and then play Burnley on Friday as we have had to bring that game forward because of international call-ups.

"If we hadn't we would have had to have played it in the last week of the season as the League insist that the season finishes on 7 May.

"I can understand that but why we can't extend it for three days I just don't know. No successful team should be facing up to these kinds of problems.

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