Football: Cole is threatened with legal action

ANDY COLE was last night facing the threat of legal action over a controversial challenge on one of Australia's most promising players.

Carlton are to seek compensation after the Manchester United striker was accused of "destroying" the career of Simon Colosimo. However, Cole says he did nothing wrong and that he did not intend to injure the left- back.

The Melbourne-based side claim that Colosimo will be out for up to six months because of Cole's challenge during the first half of United's 1- 0 tour win against the Socceroos here. The United striker's challenge put the youngster out of the game in the 30th minute. Colosimo crumpled to the ground and began waving a hand frantically to the team bench indicating that he had a serious knee injury. Video replays at the ground showed that Cole had made contact with Colosimo high on his knee with his studs.

A scan has revealed that Colosimo has suffered lateral ligament and cartilage damage and that his left knee will require total reconstruction. The 20- year-old, who is a member of Australia's Olympic team, has had trials with Bayern Munich and Panathinaikos and had been tipped for a switch to Germany. Now his dream move is on hold and the Carlton manager, Lou Sticca, is furious. "We are looking at all avenues for compensation," Sticca said. "He was scheduled to go to Europe in the next couple of weeks and now this happens. The tackle from a seasoned professional like Andy Cole was totally reckless, he has destroyed the career of one of the brightest young prospects in Australian soccer and I hope he can live with that."

Sticca would not say who would be targeted in the compensation claim, but the club could take legal action against Cole, United, Soccer Australia or tour promoters Rivkin Entertainment. Cole was not punished by the referee over the challenge and he maintains he is innocent. "I have not spoken to Colosimo and why should I because I went for the ball?" he said. "I don't feel I have done any wrong and I haven't a malicious bone in my body."

Australia's coach, Raul Blanco, was left fuming by Cole's challenge, which he branded as "vicious". He said: "What's upsetting is that it was such an unnecessary challenge. It was stupid. You knew as soon as he went down that he was badly hurt."

United left Australia for Shanghai yesterday, where they are due to play Shenhua tomorrow before their final tour match against South China in Hong Kong on Saturday.

n Manchester United old boy Mike Phelan is joining Sir Alex Ferguson's backroom staff as a coach after losing his job as Stockport County's assistant manager.

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