Football: Scholes worry for Keegan

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The Independent Online
SIR ALEX FERGUSON and Kevin Keegan are headed on a collision course over the Manchester United and England midfielder Paul Scholes.

Ferguson has decided to cancel a scheduled hernia operation for Scholes which was due to be performed this week. The Manchester United manager hopes Scholes will be able to play on for the remainder of the season with the problem that has troubled him for weeks.

Nicky Butt, his midfield partner at Old Trafford, is already absent after surgery and the strong-tackling Scholes is seen as almost indispensable to United's cause at the moment, so it is no surprise that Ferguson wants him to carry on for as long as possible.

The growing fear for England's European Championship chances is that Scholes will go under the knife at the end of the domestic season, forcing him out of the finals. Scholes is equally important to England's cause, with his two precious goals against Scotland leading to the qualifying play-off victory.

Scholes also has the knack of scoring vital goals in the finals of major competitions, an asset England are currently lacking. However, United are likely to look after their own League and cup interests first, with England a distant afterthought.

The Manchester City striker Gareth Taylor is no longer in the club's long-term plans after the signing of Robert Taylor from Gillingham, even though the new man has yet to score in two appearances.

The Maine Road manager, Joe Royle, is willing to listen to offers for the former Welsh Under-21 forward who has scored six times this season. He could accept a fee of around pounds 500,000.