David Ginola faces the threat of more frustration in Aston Villa's Intertoto Cup semi-final first leg against Stade Rennais tonight. The Frenchman would dearly love to play on home soil, but his only hope seems to be that his manager, John Gregory, will give him an outing as a substitute.
Ginola was left kicking his heels against Slaven Belupo last weekend and the same could apply in France as Gregory looks set to name an unchanged team. The summer signing Hassan Kachloul is expected to play in the left-hand midfield berth which Ginola covets.
A big bonus for Villa is the inclusion of the goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, who has already brought his presence to bear in Birmingham. Lee Hendrie is one player who seemingly believes the Dane will have a big influence on their performances.
Hendrie, who scored twice on Saturday to put Villa into the semi-finals, said: "His arrival has given everyone a big boost.
"We are all thrilled to bits that he has signed in a move that took everyone by surprise."
The Newcastle manager, Bobby Robson, has challenged his makeshift strike force to overwhelm 1860 Munich as they attempt to qualify for the Uefa Cup. The Tynesiders missed out on the competition by a long distance in last season's Premiership and they failed to sneak in through the back door when their name was put into the hat for the Fair Play League draw. Indeed, they would not even have been playing in the Intertoto Cup had the Spanish side Malaga not withdrawn at the last minute.
The Germans represent perhaps the toughest possible opposition as Newcastle head for the Olympic Stadium tonight. Robson will send out the strikers Craig Bellamy and Shola Ameobi with instructions to give their side a foothold in the tie by scoring the away goals which would make their task at St James' Park a week later much easier.
The absence of Alan Shearer, Carl Cort, Rob Lee, Clarence Acuna and Kieron Dyer through injury leaves Robson having to rely on a limited squad, but he has been further hampered by Andy O'Brien's ankle problem, which seems certain to rule out the central defender. However, the Argentinian midfielder Christian Bassedas could give his manager a fillip by recovering from the groin injury which forced his early withdrawal on Saturday night.
Robson has said that Dyer could yet figure in United's first Premiership game of the new season at Chelsea as his rehabilitation from shin surgery gathers pace.
The Rangers manager, Dick Advocaat, has admitted that his captain, Barry Ferguson, is likely to be on the bench for the Champions' League first leg of the second qualifying tie with NK Maribor in Slovenia tonight. Ferguson is struggling with a similar Achilles problem to the one that forced Ronald De Boer to stay behind in Glasgow. "We don't want to take the risk so I think he will start on the bench," Advocaat said. "But we will wait and see until after the final training session."Reuse content