Football: Francis's gross misfortune

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The Independent Online
With perfect timing, Les Ferdinand returns seven weeks after a stomach-muscle operation to partner Steffen Iversen in the Tottenham attack at Selhurst Park tonight, on the occasion of Christian Gross's first match in charge. He will also have Darren Anderton to support him from midfield.

Ferdinand, who has scored three goals in only nine appearances, said: "I've had only 45 minutes in a reserve game since the operation but I've trained well this week."

The cruel irony for the former manager Gerry Francis, who resigned last week, is that it is a line-up he would have loved to have selected. "The improvement in the injury situation is a massive boost for the club, but I can imagine how Gerry will be feeling," said Chris Hughton, who has been elevated from reserve-team manager to chief assistant and picked the team.

Gross will have only a watching brief tonight after flying in from Switzerland. In his final match in charge of the Zurich club, Grasshopper drew 1-1 yesterday at second-placed Lausanne. He leaves them on top of the league.

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