Football: Vieri's Lazio goal quest halted by injury

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The Independent Online
LAZIO'S PROLIFIC World Cup striker Christian Vieri will be out for a fortnight after aggravating a knee injury in midweek. The Rome club travel to Perugia today but Vieri, scorer of five goals in as many matches for Italy during France 98, will stay behind for further treatment.

Vieri originally injured his left knee in the Serie A derby clash with Roma and suffered further damage after just 15 minutes of the 2-0 defeat of Cosenza in the Italian Cup on Wednesday. The striker, 25, has yet to score for his new club since returning to Italian League football in a pounds 20m deal from Atletico Madrid.

Internazionale, with Ronaldo still below par, visit Empoli, Cagliari are at home to Sampdoria and Vicenza visit Piacenza in today's other matches.

In Spain, the leaders Real Madrid, are involved in a race against time to persuade their goalkeeper, Bodo Illgner, to sign a new contract. The club have until 31 December to agree to a new deal with the former German international, whose contract expires at the end of the current season.

After that date, Illgner will be free to sign for a new club for the following season and speculation is mounting that the imposing keeper will opt for Borussia Dortmund. "I'm staying calm. There is a lot of time to go before the end of the season." Illgner said.

Illgner kept Santiago Canizares out of the Real Madrid side last season and is regarded by their new coach, Guus Hiddink, as an integral part of the team. His departure would leave Real with a goalkeeping crisis as Pedro Contreras, the current reserve keeper, has yet to play a match.

Their target as a possible replacement for Illgner would be Carlos Roa, the Argentine keeper who frustrated England during the World Cup and has been in sparkling form for his club, Mallorca. However, Real may face strong competition for Roa's signature from Manchester United, who are reported to have bid over pounds 6m.

Mallorca have surpassed all expectation in rising to second in the league table, but are rumoured to be in financial trouble and now seem resigned to losing one of their prize assets. Whatever happens, Roa will not be available for Mallorca's home game with Oviedo at their 10,000-capacity stadium this afternoon after he dislocated a shoulder in a freak training ground accident on Friday, ruling him out for at least three weeks. The Oviedo midfielder Manel Menendez is suspended.

Newly-promoted Villarreal play Salamanca and will be heartened by the return of striker Moises Garcia following his sending-off against Real Madrid. For the first time this season Salamanca are at full strength, with goalkeeper Bogdan Stelea and midfielder Lucian Marinescu back from injury.

The veteran midfielder Andreas Moller has said he will be available for selection under the new Germany coach, Erich Ribbeck. "I have explained to him that I am ready to play for the national team again." Moller told the German daily Bild.

The 31-year-old Borussia Dortmund player had said following a disappointing World Cup that he wanted to drop out of international football for a while. Moller, who fell out with former coach Berti Vogts in France, said he had spoken with Ribbeck on Thursday. "I believe that Ribbeck will treat me in a fair way." he said, hinting that his difficult relationship with Vogts had been the reason for his decision to stand down.

Ribbeck was appointed earlier this month after Vogts resigned. Moller, despite 82 appearances for Germany, is considered to have never quite lived up to expectations while on duty with the national team.

Ribbeck will unveil his squad tomorrow for two European Championship qualifiers away to Turkey and Moldova.