Football: Radebe still hopeful of a rapid return to action at Elland Road

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The Independent Online
LUCAS RADEBE, the Leeds United captain, is winning his race against time to play in tomorrow's Uefa Cup tie against Partizan Belgrade at Elland Road.

Radebe is struggling with a knee injury sustained in Saturday's 3-2 Premiership home win over Newcastle, which led to the South African defender undergoing a scan yesterday. He managed a light training session in the morning before receiving treatment.

Radebe, who scored in United's 3-1 first-round first-leg win over Partizan in the Netherlands, said: "Things are shaping up well. I had a scan and it all looks good. I went jogging and it didn't feel that bad, so there's a possibility I could play. I certainly hope so."

If Radebe is ruled out, the Leeds manager David O'Leary will not risk untried the New Zealand international Danny Hay against the Yugoslavs. The pounds 200,000 buy from Perth Glory is "one for the future", according to the Irishman. Instead, the right-back Danny Mills, dropped in favour of Gary Kelly against the Magpies, will more than likely be asked to move into the heart of the defence alongside Jonathon Woodgate.

Radebe, however, knows if he does play that Partizan will almost certainly be a different proposition to the team they faced in Heerenveen - but he is adamant there will be no complacency from the United players. "Partizan have nothing to lose. I'm sure they fancy their chances because they know if they nick a goal early on it will set them up well," he said. "I'm sure they'll then be going for the win like crazy, so that first goal is all-important and hopefully it will be us who gets it to finish them off."

The Newcastle striker Temuri Ketsbaia will be out of action for up to six weeks after damaging knee ligaments at Leeds. But the 31-year-old Georgian is delighted at that prognosis, having initially feared his season could be over when he clashed with the Leeds goalkeeper Nigel Martyn at Elland Road.

Ketsbaia, who will be out until November with a medial ligament injury, said: "When it happened I thought I might have torn my cruciate ligament. It did cross my mind that I might be out for the rest of the season. Fortunately, an examination has revealed it is only medial damage. I won't be playing for at least a month, but it was a huge relief when I was told because it could have been much worse."

The Newcastle captain Alan Shearer and the youngster Paul Robinson are the only candidates to lead the line in tomorrow's Uefa Cup first-round second-leg game against CSKA Sofia at St James' Park.