Gillespie, however, after appearances in a Dublin hospital ward (six stitches in a head wound, overnight observation) and the local nick (arrested and released on police bail pending further inquiries into an "incident" at an hotel in Whickham), will be fortunate to win a place on the bench, let alone in the starting line-up for the tie against Barnsley at St James' Park. Gillespie's berth will probably go to the Georgian midfielder Temur Ketsbaia.
Still in the North-east, Newcastle's great rivals, Sunderland, will be looking forward to resuming top-flight Tyne-Wear local derby meetings after another thumping First Division win, 4-1 over Stockport County at the Stadium Of Light. With Middlesbrough leaking goals alarmingly and Nottingham Forest stuttering in the week, Peter Reid's Wearsiders now look as solid a bet as any for automatic promotion.
Yesterday, a hat-trick by Niall Quinn won the the game before Kevin Phillips added the fourth with four minutes remaining. After Quinn's first two goals, scored either side of half time, Brett Angell pulled one back for County just past the hour but Quinn's third, two minutes later, quickly snuffed out any hopes of recovery.
The three points lifted Sunderland into the First Division automatic promotion places for the first time. Meanwhile, the Boro manager, Bryan Robson, moved to plug his sieve-like defence by signing Marlon Beresford, the 26-year-old Burnley goalkeeper, for pounds 500,000. His first-choice keeper, Mark Schwarzer, has been injured and on-loan Andy Dibble conceded nine goals in two games.
Boro were without a game yesterday so the leaders, Nottingham Forest, took the opportunity to bounce back from their midweek home defeat by Sunderland with a 4-1 win at Crewe Alexandra. A hat-trick here, too, was the centre-piece of the win. Kevin Campbell, like Quinn a former Arsenal striker, rattled in his three goals after Chris Bart-Williams, playing up front in Pierre Van Hooijdonk's absence, gave Dave Bassett's side a 10th-minute lead.
Crewe's former striker Dele Adebola, seemed to be falling over but still managed to get his head to Jon McCarthy's left-wing cross and score the only goal of the game as Birmingham City beat Queen's Park Rangers at St Andrews. They lurk on the play-off fringes.
In the meeting between two other play-off contenders at Portman Road, Charlton Athletic led Ipswich Town from the 22nd minute thanks to Clive Mendonca's 19th goal of the season but the in-form East Anglians recovered and goals from Mick Stockwell, Jason Cundy and the prolific David Johnson gave them the points after the 3-1 win.
Falling like lead, Stoke City have now gone 10 games without a win and hit rock-bottom yesterday when they lost 2-0 to Huddersfield Town at the Britannia Stadium. The win lifted the Terriers above the Potters and out of the relegation places. Port Vale moved off the bottom when they won 3-0 at Reading, a defeat which left the Royals down among the drop squad.Reuse content