Football: Kennedy's hamstring keeps Royle waiting

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MARK KENNEDY may return to bolster Manchester City's promotion challenge against Barnsley tonight. The Republic of Ireland winger has a slim chance of being fit for the First Division match at Maine Road.

The 23-year-old, who joined City for pounds 1m from Wimbledon in the summer, has been one of the leaders' most consistent players this season. But he has been struggling with a hamstring problem and, after missing training yesterday, will have a late test before his manager, Joe Royle, names the side.

Royle, however, seemed reluctant to take a chance on the winger's fitness when he said: "Everybody's fit with the exception of Kennedy. He hasn't trained and we'll try him [today]. It's touch and go but the odds are against him playing."

Royle keeps faith with the squad that won 1-0 at Charlton on Saturday and is still without Andy Morrison, Ian Bishop and Paul Dickov. But the striker Lee Peacock is available again after recovering from a knee injury.

Barnsley, who have won six of their last seven games, are likely to be without the injured pair of Robbie Van der Laan and Chris Barker. Sean McClare will step in for Van der Laan, while Barker could be replaced by Darren Barnard, who is close to full fitness after recovering from a hamstring injury.

The Wolverhampton Wanderers manager, Colin Lee, hopes to have his striker Haavard Flo, who scored the equaliser in Wolves' 1-1 draw with Swindon at Saturday, available for the visit to Ipswich. The Norwegian has been struggling with tendinitis but may be promoted from the bench at Portman Road. "If they want to play me from the start I will play, but if they want me to wait another game or two I have no problem with that either," Flo said. "My knee is getting stronger but it's not pain-free. It still gives me a lot of discomfort."

The Nottingham Forest player-manager, David Platt, could give Stern John his first taste of English football as the Midlanders look to arrest their alarming slump in fortunes at home to Portsmouth.

Platt resisted the temptation to divulge whether the Trinidad and Tobago striker will figure in his starting line-up tonight, but Forest have lost their last four games and the 23-year-old has been included in the squad.

"Stern has looked a lot sharper in training," Platt said. "He managed to get some rest and is slowly getting acclimatised. I'll keep an eye on him and decide whether to include him in the team from the start."