Football: Keegan tempted by early Shearer return

Newcastle United 1 West Ham United 1

After all the drama of the coming home, the sequel of the coming back is nigh. Alan Shearer's coming back all right. The pounds 15m question is: when ?

Three o'clock this Saturday, at Stamford Bridge, is the officially appointed time. Tinkering with the schedule, however, will be the temptation on Kevin Keegan's mind as the Magpies take flight at Newcastle airport this morning.

Shearer, the Newcastle manager confirmed at the weekend, is "very close" to being ready to return following the groin operation he underwent after the Premiership leaders thumped Manchester United 5-0 at St James' Park four weeks ago. He may be even closer, given the cheekbone fracture Les Ferdinand suffered at St James' Park on Saturday.

Ferdinand's enforced absence from striking duties will start with the opening leg of Newcastle's Uefa Cup third round tie with Metz tomorrow night. On the short flight across the Channel this morning the dilemma preying on Keegan's mind will be whether to face the French test without both of his England centre-forwards or to bring forward Shearer's comeback date.

Keegan, of course, has been this way before. He announced his managerial entrance on the European stage by playing Peter Beardsley two weeks ahead of schedule in Newcastle's 5-0 win in Antwerp two years ago.

Shearer, even prior to his playing partner's unfortunate break, had been asked to travel with Keegan's squad, but purely with the intention of stepping up his training. Being forced to play Steve Watson as a target man for the closing 14 minutes against West Ham will have given Keegan another reason to consider a change of mind.

Not that Watson, Newcastle's home-grown jack-of-all-positions (goalkeeper is the only first-team role he has yet to play) did a bad job. Indeed, only Ludek Miklosko's bar stopped him snatching all three points with a late header. But Keegan's last European campaign came to an end the night he was obliged to play the England Under-21 right-back of the time as a stand-in centre forward for Andy Cole in Bilbao.

It was ironic on Saturday that the Newcastle manager, having spent more than pounds 30m on strikers, had none on the bench. Paul Kitson, however, has been declared fit to travel to Metz, and Keegan will have at least one fit international forward in Faustino Asprilla.

The Colombian loose cannon, who shot down Ferencvaros in the last round, endured one of his damp-powder days on Saturday. So, for that matter, did Beardsley - until he fired the 83rd minute goal, the 200th in his League career, that denied West Ham victory.

The manner in which the Hammers clipped Newcastle's wing-backs for Keith Rowland to claim the first goal of his career did not escape Keegan's attention. The head Magpie will have much on his mind when he takes to the skies today.

Goals: Rowland (23) 0-1; Beardsley (83) 1-1.

Newcastle United (3-5-2): Srnicek; Peacock, Albert, Elliott (Beresford, 80); Gillespie (Watson, 76), Batty, Lee, Beardsley, Ginola; Ferdinand (Clark, 44), Asprilla. Substitutes not used: Barton, Hislop (gk).

West Ham United (5-3-2): Miklosko; Breacker, Potts, Bilic, Dicks, Rowland; Bishop, Moncur, Hughes; Dowie, Raducioiu (Futre, 64) Substitutes not used: Bowen, Brown, Lampard, Shilton (gk). Referee: P Danson (Leicester).

Bookings: West Ham: Rowland, Moncur, Bilic, Dicks.

Man of the match: Miklosko.

Attendance: 36,552.

Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Travel
travel
News
Robyn Lawley
people
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
people
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

1st line call logger/ User access administrator

£9 Per Hour: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Warrington a...

Shine Night Walk 2014 - 'On the night' volunteer roles

Unpaid Voluntary Work : Cancer Research UK: We need motivational volunteers to...

Accounts Assistant (Accounts Payable & Accounts Receivable)

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Accounts Assistant (Accounts Payable...

Senior IT Trainer - Buckinghamshire - £250 - £350 p/d

£200 - £300 per day: Ashdown Group: IT Trainer - Marlow, Buckinghamshire - £25...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star