Football: Shearer to return in the new year

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The Independent Online
Sir John Hall offered Newcastle supporters an early Christmas present yesterday, but then was forced to disappoint them.

Hall, the Newcastle chairman, said on BBC Radio 4 in the morning that he understood that Alan Shearer, who suffered ankle ligament injury in a pre-season match at Goodison Park, could be back in competitive football "November-ish".

Those Magpie fans who were whooping with joy would have missed his qualifying comment that he would have a clearer idea once he had spoken to the club doctor, who, like Hall, was in Croatia for last night's Champions' League qualifier.

The doctor did not have such good news. Hall later explained: "I've now had a chance to speak with the doctor who has informed me that it is far too early to give any indication as to when Alan Shearer will be back. The specialist has told the club everything is going well and we are delighted with the progress he's making."

The player and his medical advisors are happy with his rate of recovery, but there is no target date for the England captain's return to the Premiership front line. Late January seems to be the most likely time.

Another international strikers, Fabrizio Ravanelli, could still be in the North-east when Shearer is fit to play. He will not be leaving Middlesbrough to join Everton unless the Merseysiders come up with the pounds 7.5m Boro are insisting is their minimum fee for the Italian.

On a day for abandoning hopes, Wales reluctantly turned down the chance of playing against the Brazil. They might have to make do with helping England to prepare for the World Cup finals, given that Glenn Hoddle's side qualifies.

The Welsh, who have failed to qualify, were contacted by Brazil last week and offered a game in Salvador, north of Sao Paulo, on 9 or 10 September, but there would have been problems in bringing the players back in time for Premiership matches the following weekend. There was also a good chance that Brazil would play Wales in a return prior to going to France to defend their world title next summer. That was pencilled in for early June, but because of Brazil's cash demands, that, too, has been abandoned.

Money stands between Peter Nowak and a contract at Tottenham. Transfer talks broke down when the Pole's German club, 1860 Munich, demanded pounds 1.25m, twice what Spurs were prepared to pay.

The Sheffield Wednesday striker Andy Booth has had a cartilage operation and will be ruled out for around a month to add to the club's early-season problems.

With Wednesday having earned only one point from their first four games and about to lose their Italian import Benito Carbone to a three-match ban, their manager, David Pleat, admitted: "Losing Booth is a big blow."

The pounds 2.65m former Huddersfield forward damaged a knee in the 1-1 draw with Wimbledon last Saturday. Although he was passed fit for the 7-2 defeat at Blackburn, he had to go off during the first half. Carbone will be able to play in Saturday's home game against Leicester but is set to miss matches next month against Liverpool and Coventry plus a Coca-Cola Cup tie after being sent off at Ewood Park.

The League of Wales club Cwmbran Town have been forced to accept a five- figure loan from undisclosed sources to enable them to fulfil their European Cup-Winners' Cup preliminary round second leg match against National Bucuresti in Romania tonight.

Cwmbran, beaten 5-2 in the first leg on their own ground two weeks ago, took less than pounds 3,000 on the gate and now face the prospect of paying around pounds 15,000 in travel and accommodation expenses for the return.

The Gwent club had been hoping to boost their revenue through television rights and the subsequent increase in sponsorship and advertising, but those hopes ended when BBC Wales decided not to screen the match. Although they will receive pounds 30,000 from Uefa for taking part in the competition, Cwmbran must wait until next summer for that money.