Football: Phillips scare for Sunderland

THE SUNDERLAND striker Kevin Phillips was forced to spend the night in hospital after damaging a hamstring in the Football League 100th Championship Challenge defeat by Liverpool.

The former Watford forward scored in his side's 3-2 defeat by the Merseysiders on Tuesday night, but was taken off on a stretcher off five minutes from time.

The Wearsiders' manager, Peter Reid, later admitted that he was keeping his fingers crossed for the man who scored 25 times in the club's triumphant First Division campaign. "We are just hoping it's a few torn fibres instead of a full-blown hamstring tear," he said. "He will be in hospital this evening so we'll give him the best chance to recover quickly. Hopefully within the next 24 hours we should know."

The 100th Football League champions were beaten as Robbie Fowler - playing for the first time since completing a six-match ban - Jamie Redknapp and Paul Ince scored for the visitors, with Allan Johnston and Phillips replying.

However, there was a sad end to Steve McManaman's Liverpool career when he was forced to withdraw from what would have been his last game for the club because of the death of his mother, Irene. The 27-year-old Real Madrid-bound midfielder spent the night in Crosby, Merseyside, at his mother's bedside.

Around 500 Liverpool fans had travelled to the North-east to see McManaman play in what would have been his last appearance in a Liverpool shirt.

Arsenal have shrugged off the disappointment of finishing runners-up in the Premiership title race to beat Malaysia 2-0 in a friendly match at the Jalil Hill national stadium yesterday. Nicolas Anelka put the Gunners into a 49th-minute lead and fellow Frenchman Emmanuel Petit settled the issue a quarter of an hour later.

Leeds yesterday announced figures revealing their highest League attendances at Elland Road for 25 years. Sell-out crowds for the last four matches of the 1998-99 season boosted the club's average to 35,845, their best since an average of 38,666 watched Don Revie's team win the 1973-74 League title.

The club's chairman, Peter Ridsdale, said: "We are very encouraged by them. The team have been playing attractive football and I would like to think that next season we can push the average even higher."

The former Blackburn Rovers manager Roy Hodgson, in talks over the job of Australian national coach, has been appointed to the coaching staff of the Fifa world XI team to play the Socceroos next month. Hodgson is currently the caretaker coach of Internazionale, with the Serie A season finishing this weekend.

He will then help prepare the Fifa All Stars - including Christian Vieri, Jurgen Klinsmann, Leonardo and George Weah - who take on Australia on 12 June in a game to officially open Sydney's Olympic Stadium.

His presence Down Under will give Australian officials a chance for further discussions over the vacant post of national team coach.

Hodgson, who was sacked by Blackburn last November, has been continually linked with the position that has been filled on an interim basis by Raul Blanco since the former England manager Terry Venables stepped down last July.