Football: Fowler out of action `until Christmas'

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The Independent Online
NO SOONER had his injury-curtailed season ended than Robbie Fowler was told he would be facing the rest of the year without football.

Following a clash with the Everton goalkeeper, Thomas Myhre, during the Merseyside derby at Anfield in February, the Liverpool striker suffered knee cartilage damage which kept him out of the remainder of the season and ended his hopes of playing in the World Cup finals.

"There were some reports that he had visions of playing pre-season, but he certainly won't be playing before Christmas. That is the estimation at the moment," the Liverpool physiotherapist, Mark Leather, said yesterday.

"At the moment he is exercising, jogging out of a brace, weight-lifting and doing plenty of pool work. He is still ahead of schedule at this stage but he will certainly not be playing first-team football until the later stages of the year."

It means Fowler will also play no part in Liverpool's friendly against Internazionale at Anfield on 4 August. The game is part of the deal which brought Paul Ince to Liverpool from the San Siro last summer.

Premiership runners-up Manchester United are still hopeful of signing the Cameroon international Marc Vivien Foe from French champions Lens. The United club secretary, Ken Ramsden, said: "We haven't confirmed a deal with his club yet so there is no progress there. It is still ongoing."

Despite relegation to the First Division, Crystal Palace look certain to become the third club to benefit from Chelsea's European success by qualifying for the InterToto Cup.

Aston Villa moved into the Uefa Cup courtesy of Chelsea's European Cup- Winners' Cup victory over Stuttgart on Wednesday, ruling the Midlanders out of having to compete in the InterToto Cup to gain a place in Europe.

Palace were the only Premier League club apart from Villa to express an interest in the pre-season tournament and unless another club declares an interest before the deadline for entries of 2 June, it will be Palace who try to secure one of three places on offer in next season's Uefa Cup.

It will not be easy for them, however. The Eagles would need to win three two-legged matches, culminating in the finals on 11 August and 25, to secure a Uefa spot.

Palace's European adventures will take place without Tomas Brolin, however. The Swedish international has been released by the Selhurst Park club he joined in January.

The former Leeds and Parma player has been unable to recapture his once deadly form and fitness and failed to score in 15 appearances for the Eagles, nor did he play in the last three games of the season when relegation was confirmed.

Palace have also released four other players: Patricio Billio, who was a non-contract player, Rory Ginty, Richard Kennedy and David Stevens.

McLeod's ambition, page 28

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