Football: Magpie Hamann in frame to face Leeds

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The Independent Online
NEWCASTLE HAVE successfully appealed to the German authorities to allow Dietmar Hamann to miss international duty and play instead in Saturday's Premiership match against Leeds. The 25-year-old was due to fly to the United States with his national side for two friendly matches. Newcastle will still be without Alan Shearer and Nikos Dabizas because of suspension.

Hamann, the former Bayern Munich player, signed by Kenny Dalglish for pounds 4.5m during the summer, appears to have resolved his differences with Newcastle's manager, Ruud Gullit, and has been a regular alongside Gary Speed in central midfield in the absence of the injured skipper Rob Lee.

"He's very eager to get back into the international squad, but he earns his money here," Gullit said. "He has to adapt to English football first and his chances with the national team will come from there."

Hamann is seen as a future German captain, but he recently expressed his disquiet at his lack of first-team chances at Newcastle, hinting that he could leave Tyneside at the end of the season.

The player insists that an interview he gave to a German magazine, in which he is said to have spoken of a dressing-room split, was taken out of context. "They wrote in England that I said something against the English players, that the English players were in one part of the bus or the dressing room and the foreigners in the other," he said in an interview in the Aston Villa programme.

"But I said that is normal because of the language, and the fact that we live with some of them at the hotel. I was taken out of context. But I have talked to the manager and told him there was never a problem with the other players. There has never been a problem - and there will not be in the future."