Football: Shearer waiting for knee verdict

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ALAN SHEARER is waiting to hear whether he will need an operation on a persistently troublesome knee injury after consulting a specialist yesterday. Kenny Dalglish, the Blackburn Rovers manager, and his England counterpart, Graham Taylor, are also listening anxiously for the hospital's prognosis.

The England international has managed only 30 minutes of Rovers' last four games, and with the club in contention for three trophies, Dalglish will be keen to have his premier striker, who has already scored 22 times this term, back as quickly as possible.

Taylor will also be eager to have the country's leading forward 100 per cent fit for San Marino's visit to Wembley on 17 February when England will be aiming to improve substantially their goal difference in the World Cup Qualifying Group Two.

Another hobbling former England Under-21 attacker, Norwich City's Mark Robins, learned yesterday that the ankle injury he sustained during the Canaries' defeat at Hillsborough on Sunday was not as bad as first feared. X-rays showed Robins has only twisted his ankle and he should be back in action within a month.

Julian Dicks, West Ham's combative left-back, may be summoned to appear before the Football Association to discuss his conduct following his third sending-off of the season, at Derby County on Sunday. 'Any player whose record is giving cause for concern could be called up for a chat to try to find out what's going wrong,' Eric Dinnie, the FA's disciplinary chief, said.

Dicks was dismissed for a second bookable offence - a scything lunge at Derby's Ted McMinn - and would normally be suspended for only one game. But as the FA adds an extra match for each previous red card of the season the Hammers will be without Dicks for three fixtures from 24 January.

John Fashanu, the Wimbledon striker, may also face a Lancaster Gate call-up following his involvement in a televised incident at Ewood Park which resulted in Rovers' Kevin Moran sustaining a broken nose. Moran, who suffered the injury while leaping for the ball with Fashanu, accused the Dons' player of 'throwing out an elbow'. Fashanu, who was not booked, called the challenge an accidental clash of heads. He received a yellow card for a later indiscretion.

Rangers and Tottenham Hotspur appear to be deadlocked over the possible transfer of Gordon Durie to Ibrox with both clubs sticking to their valuation of the player. Unless a compromise can be reached the Scottish champions have little chance of strengthening their squad before Friday's European signing deadline.

Spurs are believed to want nearly pounds 3m for the Paisley-born 27-year- old who supported Rangers as a boy, while the Glasgow club value Durie no higher than pounds 1.5m although they might be prepared to include a player in the deal. Archie Knox, the Rangers No 2, said: 'The next move is up to Spurs because we won't be going back to them.'

The Scottish FA yesterday took a major step towards changing the rules of eligibility surrounding international footballers. In response to a move by their Northern Ireland counterparts, the SFA council has agreed a proposal to extend the qualification list to include eligibility through grandparents, as practised already by the Republic of Ireland.

If ratified by the four Home Associations (as expected) the hunt will soon begin for promising players with Scots, English, Welsh and Irish grandparents.

Franz Carr, who has lost his place on Newcastle's wing since Robert Lee arrived from Charlton Athletic, has joined Sheffield United on a month's loan. Carr is valued by the Magpies at up to pounds 200,000.

Dennis Bergkamp, the Dutch striker who has been besieged by offers from Continental clubs, said yesterday that he would leave Ajax at the end of the season but he has not yet decided where he will go.

New Faces for the New Year, page 29