Football: Rovers must do without Jansen

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The Independent Online
THERE WAS both good news and bad for Blackburn Rovers yesterday in their struggle to stay in the Premiership. The announcement of Kevin Gallacher's return to first-team action was tempered by the news that Matt Jansen is likely to miss the rest of the season.

Jansen, the England Under-21 striker, suffered a knee injury in Rovers' 0-0 draw with Middlesbrough on Saturday and a scan has revealed a torn cartilage. The pounds 4m signing from Crystal Palace now faces an operation which should rule him out for the rest of the campaign.

Already this week Kidd has suffered fresh injury fears over the midfielders Billy McKinlay (groin) and Lee Carsley (ankle). He is also without the long-term absentees Garry Flitcroft (knee) and Christian Dailly (thigh). One bonus for the manager is that Gallacher marked his comeback from a calf injury with a hat-trick in Wednesday's 5-1 Pontins League victory over Preston.

Rovers' former manager, Roy Hodgson, could be set for a return to international management with Austria by the end of the week.

The former Switzerland coach is meeting the president of the Austrian Football Federation, Beppo Mauhart, in Prague, where Hodgson is participating in a Fifa congress.

Hodgson is also believed to be considering offers from a Premiership club, a Spanish Primera Division side and a German Bundesliga club.

Aston Villa have applied to take part in this summer's Intertoto Cup in the hope that it will earn them a place in the Uefa Cup next season. Their decision follows the Uefa ruling that Newcastle United will earn a Uefa Cup place even if they are beaten in this weekend's FA Cup semi- final against Tottenham. Villa would need to finish fourth in the Premiership to qualify automatically for the competition, but the chances of that look slim as they currently trail fourth-placed Leeds United by 11 points.

Villa's secretary-director, Steve Stride, said: "It is difficult to see another way of securing European football. But you only have to look at Bologna, this year's semi-finalists, and Bordeaux, who reached the final three years ago, to see that the Intertoto is a positive route into the Uefa Cup."

Charlton are rewarding their travelling supporters' loyalty this season by paying for them to travel to their crucial fixture at Everton on 24 April. The Addicks will spend pounds 25,000 taking 2,700 supporters to the game in a repeat of an initiative that saw them take 4,000 fans to Port Vale last season.

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