Hodgson relieved at Long's short lay-off

Roy Hodgson has admitted his relief that the West Bromwich striker Shane Long will be sidelined for only six weeks after fearing a much longer lay-off.

Long suffered a knee injury in a challenge from Aston Villa's Alan Hutton during Saturday's derby, a tackle that manager Hodgson claimed merited a red card. But the player could be back in action by the early part of December, although that will still rule him out of the Republic of Ireland's Euro 2012 play-off with Estonia.

Hodgson said yesterday: "I was a bit relieved, although six weeks is still a lot. It means he will still possibly miss six games. You don't take the situation lightly, but we know it could have been a lot worse.

"The ideal scenario would have been no injury at all but, if there has got to be one, at least it's not a serious break or ligament damage."

Hodgson said Albion had "no plans at the moment" to recall striker Chris Wood from his loan spell at Birmingham after Long's setback. The West Bromwich manager is hoping another Albion striker, Simon Cox, can help Ireland overcome Long's absence.

"It is a blow for them and a big blow to Shane, who is a very patriotic Irishman who was looking forward to helping his country get to the European finals," Hodgson said. "But it looks like they can fill the gap and maybe Simon Cox can help them."

Albion midfielder Graham Dorrans is expected to return to training today after missing the Villa game with a knee injury.

The Aston Villa defender Alan Hutton is struggling to be fit for Saturday's trip to Sunderland because of the facial injury suffered during the home setback against West Bromwich.

Hutton required seven stitches after an a clash with team-mate Charles N'Zogbia and had to be substituted before half-time of the 2-1 defeat. The wound is immediately above Hutton's eye and affecting his vision, which means he is a doubt for the match with Sunderland.

Villa's assistant manager Peter Grant said: "His eye was closing on Saturday and it is still like that. He is touch and go for the weekend because of where the cut is. It means he has to be careful with heading. If he gets a knock it could just open up."

Portsmouth have received more than 50 applications for the Fratton Park manager's job following Steve Cotterill's switch to Nottingham Forest.

The club's chief executive, David Lampitt, is sifting through the candidates, although he does not have to rush an appointment as the caretaker managerial team of Stuart Gray and Guy Whittingham have picked up two wins from their three matches in charge.

"Getting the right man is more important for us than getting someone in quickly," Lampitt said. "We have a good, credible and testing process to get what we want.

"It's the No 1 priority. It's not that we want to take more time than is necessary but we want to get it right."

The former Bournemouth and Doncaster manager Sean O'Driscoll is the bookmakers' favourite to land the role.

Brighton have confirmed that midfielder Gary Dicker suffered a fractured fibula against West Ham United on Monday and expect him to be out for at least three months.

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