Campbell's World Cup in doubt over possible nose surgery

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The Independent Online

Sol Campbell will find out today whether he needs immediate surgery on a broken nose that may rule him out of the Champions' League final on 17 May, should Arsenal make it. Surgery would also make it doubtful whether Sven Goran Eriksson would pick him for the World Cup squad which is due to be announced two days' earlier.

It was confirmed yesterday that the 31-year-old has a broken nose and will need surgery - that could rule him out for up to three weeks - but it is has not yet been decided by specialists whether that operation can wait until the end of the season. Campbell started for Arsenal for the first time since 1 February on Wednesday night and broke his nose in a clash with Svetoslav Todorov during the 1-1 draw with Portsmouth.

The break caps a dreadful few months for Campbell who has suffered from ankle and toe injuries and famously substituted himself at half-time and left Highbury during the 3-2 defeat to West Ham United on 1 February. He lost his place to Rio Ferdinand in the England side, after briefly regaining it against Austria in October and, even if fit, would have been unlikely to have started the Champions' League first-leg match against Villarreal next Wednesday.

Eriksson has reassured the player this month that he will go to Germany this summer regardless of whether he has been playing for Arsenal. However, this latest setback may give even the Swede cause to think again. While Campbell has played every minute of every England game in the last four tournaments, he now appears to be considered back-up to the central-defence partnership of John Terry and Ferdinand.

Wenger said yesterday: "He [Campbell] has no breathing problems, but the surgeon has to decide whether he has surgery now or whether we should wait until the end of the season. If he needs surgery now it is at least a week out. It is three weeks without any risk, but I feel he could play after one week."

Arsenal are also expected to welcome back Ashley Cole for full training on Monday. He last broke down in a reserve game at the end of February. After a broken metatarsal was diagnosed in October he has suffered muscle problems and is also not expected to be a contender for the match against Villarreal next week.

Michael Owen will play again for Newcastle before the end of the season, his Newcastle manager, Glenn Roeder, said yesterday. The England striker broke a metatarsal bone in a collision with the Tottenham and England goalkeeper Paul Robinson on New Year's Eve but, after undergoing a second surgical procedure to adjust the pins in his right foot he was back in training yesterday.

"Roeder said: "He put his boots on for the first time today and worked with our physio and fitness coach. Everything went well and he's happy. Everyone's having a stab in the dark about when Michael will be fit again.

"If he doesn't make the target there is hysteria around the country because he's so important to our chances of winning the World Cup. But we are confident he will be involved [for Newcastle], although whether it's the second last game of the season or the last we don't know.

"It's onwards and upwards again for Michael and I'm confident he will play for Newcastle before the end of the season."

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