Bullard flies to America to see knee specialist

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The Independent Football

Jimmy Bullard will fly to the United States on Monday to see the leading knee specialist, Richard Steadman.

Bullard suffered serious ligament damage following a challenge from Scott Parker in Fulham's 2-1 victory over Newcastle last Saturday and is facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines. It was a cruel blow for the 27-year-old summer signing from Wigan, whose energy and commitment had made him a supporters' favourite after only three games at Craven Cottage.

Steadman, who is based in Colorado, has treated Alan Shearer and Michael Owen in the past - among many others - and Bullard has been reassured he is in the best possible hands.

"Jimmy is flying out to America where he will see the top guy in his field," the Fulham manager Chris Coleman said. "We don't know exactly for how long Jimmy will be out. Our doctor said after the Newcastle game that he didn't think there would be any ligament damage.

"What happened is Bulley's hamstring had seized up because his body was protecting the injury. We thought there was no ligament damage and that's why he wouldn't be out for that long. But we've since found there was sufficient ligament damage to require surgery.

"We won't know exactly the extent of the damage until he sees this guy in the States. He's flying out on Monday so hopefully we'll have some news by the end of next week.

"We've sent Jimmy to Richard Steadman because he's a very, very good player. He's someone who will be a massive influence on this football club in the next three or four years. Jimmy has to see the best guy available. Any players who will be at this club for a long time will get the best treatment."

Elsewhere in the Premiership, Curtis Ujah has signed a one-year contract with Reading. The 18-year-old was previously on a short-term deal after completing his Academy scholarship at the end of last season and will now join Slough Town on loan for a month.

* Israel have been cleared by Uefa to stage European matches again. On 7 August, the European governing body relocated all matches to neutral territory because of the conflict in the area. However, the decision means England should now play their Euro 2008 qualifier on 24 March next year in Israel.