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Football: Shearer pays tribute to Ginola

ALAN SHEARER, the Newcastle captain, insists he has no quarrel with David Ginola, who faces another hostile reception at St James' Park tonight when he and his Tottenham Hotspur team-mates play the Magpies in an FA Cup third-round replay.

Prior to a Premiership meeting on Tyneside last month the Spurs winger said Shearer was the England captain in name only, and his comments met with a predictable response from the terraces. But Shearer refuses to be drawn into the row. "I don't know what it's all about," he said. "I've never said anything about him.

"What I have said about him is that he's a fantastic talent and he, without a doubt, will be a threat to us [tonight], as he is to any team because of his ability. I was fortunate enough to play with him here for a year or so, and I know probably more than most what ability he has. He's one of the best players I've played with.

Bobby Robson, the Newcastle manager, is also very aware of Ginola's ability and has chosen to have him man-marked in recent encounters. But Shearer knows that Spurs do not solely rely on the mercurial talents of Ginola. "Whether we man-mark him or not, he'll still be a threat because that's the type of player he is," he said. "But it would be silly for us to concentrate on him because they're not a one-man team."

Robson and his side will go into the game with fresh injury problems, particularly in defence. Franck Dumas, Didier Domi, Alain Goma, Steve Howey and Andy Griffin are all long-term absentees, while Laurent Charvet and Alessandro Pistone are also likely to be out. Charvet has been seeing a specialist about his long-standing knee injury and Pistone has flu.

The teenager Gary Caldwell is in the squad while the Marcelino, the Spaniard, returns from a thigh injury. "We're down to the bare bones defensively," said Robson as he bemoaned his luck. "I've only got four defenders."

Spurs have injury doubts over Tim Sherwood (groin) and his fellow midfielder Steffen Freund (hamstring).

Emile Heskey, the Leicester City striker, is a doubt for the replay against Hereford United tonight. He suffered a calf injury in Saturday's 1-0 defeat by Derby which has not responded to treatment. Darren Eadie, Leicester's new signing, is cup-tied so Arnar Gunnlaugsson, the Icelandic international, is likely to partner Tony Cottee in attack. Neil Lennon, Frank Sinclair and Steve Guppy remain injured.

Graham Turner, Hereford United's Director of Football, whose Conference side held Leicester to a 0-0 draw in the first game, said: "It's often stated that you only get one chance when you play a Premier League side. We might get stuffed out of sight in the replay, but the belief in our camp has got to be that we can win it.

"However, we can't overlook the money factor and what we get from Filbert Street will give us much-needed revenue and keep the wolf from the door for that much longer. Last season any offers we had for players had to be accepted because we had to meet the bills. But this Cup run has aided us. If we go get an offer for a player we can now choose when we decide to sell. But what we've got to do is get on a firmer financial footing."

Tony Parkes, the Blackburn manager, also has personnel problems ahead of tonight's replay against West Bromwich Albion at Ewood Park. Darren Peacock, the central defender, and the striker Matt Jansen are almost certainly out with flu, and Simon Grayson, the full-back, is also doubtful. Jeff Kenna could deputise for Grayson while Martin Taylor will play in Peacock's place.

West Bromwich will be without the suspended defenders Larus Sigurdsson and Daryl Burgess. Paul Raven has flu, and the Italian duo of Enzo Maresca and Max Iezzi are also struggling with illness. The striker James Quinn is a doubt with a groin injury.