Football: Fowler expects swift return

LIVERPOOL'S ROBBIE Fowler could make his first-team return in his side's Uefa Cup match in Kosice on 15 September. The striker made a surprise return to action in a Pontins League game at Leicester earlier this week and, with Liverpool not having another reserve team game until the end of the month, it is becoming increasingly likely that Fowler could be on the bench in Slovakia and may even be involved in next Wednesday's Premiership fixture with Coventry at Anfield as a substitute.

Fowler hopes to end the theory that two out-and-out goalscorers cannot play together as he anticipated partnering Michael Owen again. "Let's just say the partnership will be interesting," he said. "Michael is playing really well and I have always had confidence in my ability to score goals. Sometimes people forget that I create goals too. I have always brought other players into the game." Fowler, 23, has been unable to play for seven months due to cruciate knee damage and was not expected back until Christmas.

Birmingham City's impressive start to the season has been shaken after the winger Peter Ndlovu underwent knee surgery that could keep him out for the next nine games. The Zimbabwean international had the operation after his knee locked on the training ground. Trevor Francis, the Blues' manager, said: "We knew straight away that it was cartilage damage." Ndlovu is now likely to have to spend the next month recovering.

Dundee United's manager, Tommy McLean, last night insisted he was putting the beleaguered club's fortunes before his own after accepting the inevitable and agreeing to step down. McLean left the troubled Tannadice side "by mutual and amicable" consent just four games into the new Premier League campaign after a poor start which leaves them second bottom with only a single point. Paul Sturrock, the former United player who has been in charge of St Johnstone, was confirmed as McLean's successor after agreeing to leave Perth to take on the task of restoring his old club's fortunes.

McLean's demise was hardly helped by a humiliating League Cup exit at Third Division Ross County recently, but the United board's patience finally seems to have snapped after just five wins in 26 competitive matches during 1998.

Queen's Park Rangers have parted company with their chief executive, Clive Berlin. The move is thought to be part of a cost-cutting exercise by the troubled London club, whose shares have slipped from more than pounds 1 to a low of just 13p.

Coventry City have made a new offer to sign Wolves' former England Under- 21 international winger Steve Froggatt for around pounds 1.5m.

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