Football: Keane set for United cup return

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

ROY KEANE is expected to feature in Manchester United's Coca-Cola Cup tie at Port Vale tomorrow, the Republic of Ireland midfielder's first start since returning from the World Cup with a groin injury. Added to his name on the team-sheet are a number of unfamiliar players.

Goalkeeper Gary Walsh, fit again after an appendix operation, also makes his first start of the season, taking over from Peter Schmeichel, while the United manager Alex Ferguson could also bring in a number of promising young players for the first-leg. Nicky Butt, Keith Gillespie, Gary Neville, Paul Scholes, David Beckham and Simon Davies are all on stand-by.

Ferguson said: 'It's an ideal opportunity to bring them in. They were on the bench for the European Cup last week and I consider them first team players.' Mark Hughes is rested after having treatment for a groin strain.

Kenny Dalglish, the Blackburn manager, can also boast one of the Premiership's strongest squads but is expected to make just one change from the team which won at Chelsea on Sunday for Rovers' match against Birmingham at Ewood Park. Jason Wilcox returns from suspension in place of Mark Atkins.

Barry Fry's side will, typically, show at least four changes from the team which defeated Peterborough 4-0 on Sunday. The on-loan pair Gary Bull and Brian Small are ruled out because Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa respectively do not want them cup-tied, while Jonathan Hunt and Gary Poole, signed from Southend last week, are ineligible. Another Second Division versus Premiership confrontation comes at the Racecourse Ground, where Wrexham face Coventry, with manager Brian Flynn convinced Wrexham can win the match. 'Upsets do happen, as we know here,' said Flynn, alluding to the 1992 FA Cup win over Arsenal.

'I'm sure Coventry will know how well we've done in the cups in recent years.'

Everton tackle Portsmouth at Goodison looking for their first win of the season with manager Mike Walker investigating allegations that goalkeeper Neville Southall made obscene gestures to fans in the weekend draw with QPR. 'If I had seen the incident myself I might have well taken action already, but as it is I will ask for Neville's version first,' Walker explained.