The Blackburn Rovers manager Steve Kean said last night that his French full-back Gaël Givet had to be substituted in the first half of the club's 2-1 defeat to Sunderland because he suffered heart palpitations.
Givet, who was withdrawn after 22 minutes of the first half, was later examined by the Blackburn club doctor. Kean said that Givet's heart was "out of sync" and that it could have implications for the player's long-term career.
Having led 1-0 from Simon Vukcevic's goal in the 17th minute, Blackburn conceded an equaliser scored by David Vaughan with four minutes remaining and then a second, from Sebastian Larsson, in injury time.
Kean said that Givet, 30, a former France international, had suffered from the problem in the past. "Gaël Givet had heart palpitations," Kean said. "His heart was pounding out of his neck and the doctor said there was the potential he might collapse. We had to get him off. He has had it before when his heart goes out of sync.
"If we hadn't done it at that time the doctor said he could have ended up with a much worse situation. They have put the monitor on him, it has settled down and, hopefully, he will be fine. His heart rate is fine. I don't know what we will do about it.
"You look at the bigger picture and with the intensity he is running about, that condition can be serious."
Kean's side finished the game with 10 men after Martin Olsson, Givet's replacement, had to come off at half-time and Michel Salgado also had to be replaced after sustaining a suspected cracked rib. With all three substitutes used, Jason Lowe was taken off near the end following treatment after a collision with Larsson. Kean said the player had suffered concussion.
The Blackburn manager said he had no knowledge of suggestions that his club have serious cash-flow problems and face the prospect that their bankers, Barclays, could stop the club's credit line. It was reported Barclays is demanding a £10m payment by the end of the year or it will withdraw credit, placing in doubt the payment of the players' January wages.
Sunderland's win means that Wigan Athletic are drawn back into the relegation zone, with Martin O'Neill's team now 16th on goal difference. On the first anniversary of Kean taking over as manager, Blackburn's miserable season continues. They remain 19th in the table with this, their ninth defeat, and one point ahead of Bolton.
Kean was critical of the referee Peter Walton for disallowing a goal by Chris Samba in the first half and also for the award of the free-kick against Mauro Formica that led to Larsson's winning goal. However, he maintained his relentlessly positive outlook. "We have two great games coming up," he said. "They are home games and we won our last game at home against Swansea. We have West Brom and Bolton and we should have Ruben Rochina, Junior Hoilett and Steven Nzonzi back."
On the occasion of his first victory as Sunderland manager, O'Neill said that he was "just ecstatic" with his team's comeback from a goal behind. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think this [would be possible]," he said. Later he added: "Just to get three points is the main thing.
"I would have given a lot for that. But forget about myself, for the players having lost the [previous] game against Wigan in such circumstances to miss that penalty [is impressive]. It is only a win and we have a million miles to go but in terms of restoring the team's confidence it is great.
"It is a difficult programme coming up but we are where we are regardless of good luck or bad luck. We have to fight on but the players look like they are up for it."
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