Bellamy faces his sixth knee operation

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The Independent Football

Craig Bellamy, the Newcastle United striker, has flownto the United States for a sixth knee operation.

The 24-year-old Welshman has been sent to see Richard Steadman, the Denver-based specialist who saved Alan Shearer's career, and is expected to undergo surgeryin the next 24 hours to solve the tendinitis problem which has dogged him for weeks.

Bellamy was initially operated on by Steadman during the summer of 2002 to repair his other knee, and Newcastle will hope the surgeon can once again restore one of their most influential players to fitness.

"The club has been aware of the presence of tendinitis in Craig's left knee, similar to the condition he had in his right knee, for several weeks and therefore have been treating it conservatively during this period," a Newcastle spokesman said. "However, the problem flared up again during his last international duty and it was felt that, following further consultation, surgery would be the best option for Craig."

The Newcastle midfielder, Nolberto Solano, has been omitted from the squad for tonight's Premiership match against Fulham at Loftus Road. The 28-year-old Peruvian stormed out of Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium after not being selected from Saturday's game.

Kieron Dyer and Andy Griffin are both out having picked up minor injuries at the weekend. Jonathan Woodgate is still recovering from surgery to repair a double hernia.

The Fulham manager, Chris Coleman has steered his side to sixth in the table. But he said: "We won't be fancied but we haven't been fancied so far this season. We've already proved people wrong and we hope to do that again. We go into the game with nothing to fear and, if we play like we have done this season, we have a hell of a chance in beating Newcastle."

Luis Boa Morte, will undergo a late fitness test on a hamstring injury. The forward Facundo Sava is still out with a shoulder injury, while the midfielder Sean Davis continues to make good progress on his return from a knee injury, but is not expected to feature tonight.

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