The debate about whether Manchester United's Paul Scholes should be recalled for England's decisive European Championship qualifying match in Turkey is likely to prove academic after tomorrow, when he will see a specialist and expects to be told an operation is required for a hernia.
United kept him out of England's recent double-header with Macedonia and Liechtenstein, and their Premiership game at Charlton yesterday, hoping that rest might ease the problem. But their manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, admitted: "He's not improved. It's very tender and it looks likely it's going to be an operation. Because it's a third hernia, it could be a longer comeback. That's why we were trying to get through this period. The last time, he was back in 17 days, but this could be a month."
The club's main concern is that Scholes might miss both Champions' League ties against Rangers, in Glasgow on 22 October and Manchester a fortnight later. For England, however, the important date is 11 October, when they must avoid defeat in Istanbul to qualify automatically for the Euro 2004 finals.
Their head coach, Sven Goran Eriksson, has retained great faith in the United midfielder, despite his failure to score an international goal since June 2001. "It's not easy to find another Paul Scholes," he said recently.
Meanwhile, all the comings at Chelsea since Roman Abramovich's takeover have been followed by a going - Trevor Birch, the former chief executive, has left the club and severed all connections with the parent company, Chelsea Village. Birch walked a lap of honour before yesterday's kick-off, shaking hands with fans.
Birch's departure came five days after the news that Peter Kenyon had resigned as chief executive of Manchester United to take on a similar role at Chelsea. Birch's resignation is effective immediately, the club said, but he will "assist during a transition period".Reuse content