Heart operation sidelines Allardyce

Pressures of the job catch up with Blackburn manager but he expects to be back in just 10 days
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The Independent Online

Blackburn Rovers insisted last night that their manager, Sam Allardyce, will be back working within 10 days after undergoing a heart operation this week.

Allardyce, who turned 55 last month, "complained of brief episodes of chest discomfort", according to a statement from the club. His treatment involves an angioplasty, which is an operation to widen the artery using an artificial tube called a stent. "Sam is very disappointed, but his well-being is of prime consideration," Rovers chairman, John Williams, said. "We all appreciate that Premier League football is a stressful business, and prevention is always better than cure."

There had been no hint of the specific problem when Allardyce met the media on Friday, although he was in reflective mood, musing on the pressures of management as he prepared – apparently – to take Blackburn back to his old stamping ground at Bolton for a big local derby today. "If you go back you want to show them what you've got and what they might be missing," he said of the club where he finished in the top eight of the Premier League for four seasons running.

It was significant in retrospect that he should have talked about the pressures of managing a team now at the wrong end of the table; Rovers are just two points above Bolton, who slipped into the relegation places yesterday when West Ham drew 3-3 at Hull. "Living in the bottom six is a very difficult place to be," Allardyce said. "It's got such huge pressure that revolves around it. There's always the 'R' word that's talked about almost from the start of the season. And no matter what you do, you're always in the public eye."

He will be in a more private place while his team play Bolton, Fulham (on Wednesday) and Stoke (next weekend). The plan is that he should return for the Carling Cup quarter-final on Wednesday week with Chelsea, who sent Allardyce into a rage when beating Blackburn 5-0 at Stamford Bridge a fortnight ago after what he called a "pathetic" second-half performance. The club's assistant manager, Neil McDonald, will take charge of first-team affairs in the interim.

Sir Alex Ferguson and Joe Kinnear have also undergone heart surgery in recent years. Kinnear has not worked since his operation last February, although he insists he is now fit.

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