Football: Fowler's nose may frustrate Keegan

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The Independent Online
KEVIN KEEGAN should know by tomorrow whether Robbie Fowler will be available for selection for England's friendly against Hungary in Budapest next Wednesday.

Fowler's club, Liverpool, yesterday confirmed that the striker, who is suspended for the rest of the Premiership season, suffered a broken nose during a scuffle in the toilets of a Liverpool hotel early on Sunday morning.

Now Keegan, the England caretaker coach, who is thought to be keen to include Fowler in the England squad which he will announce on Thursday, must wait to see if the 24-year-old will be fit enough to travel. The striker seems likely to declare himself ready for action. A Liverpool spokesman said: "He has seen medical staff and it has been confirmed that he has suffered a broken nose in the assault." If fit, Fowler could expect to play a key role in Budapest, with his club-mate Michael Owen and Blackburn's Chris Sutton both injured.

The incident, which occurred at Liverpool's Moat House Hotel, is the latest episode in a traumatic month for Fowler, following his fine and six-match suspension as a result of two cases of indiscipline: his altercation with Graeme Le Saux at Chelsea and then his simulated cocaine-sniffing against Everton. A man has been charged with assaulting Fowler at the hotel.

The Tottenham manager, George Graham, has joined the growing band of Premiership managers who believe England should call off the friendly against Hungary. He fears that Keegan is ready to exclude any players from the top three Championship-chasing clubs from his squad. "That would be out of order," he said. "How can that be fair on the rest of us?"

The former Liverpool player and manager, Graeme Souness, was yesterday sacked as the coach of Benfica. He will be replaced at the financially- stricken Portuguese club by Jupp Heynckes, the former West Germany striker who was in charge of Real Madrid last season.

Crystal Palace supporters who attended the club's fans forum last night broke into rapturous applause on learning that the club's manager, Steve Coppell, had signed a five-year contract that will run until the end of 2003. They also heard that Sasa Curcic, the Yugoslav midfielder, would be leaving soon. Simon Patterson, the accountant speaking for the administrators, said: "Curcic expressed his desire to leave the club and has found another club. He will fly out tomorrow for a week's training with them - no transfer fee has yet been agreed."