New Bellamy setback

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The Independent Football

Newcastle may have to put the return of Craig Bellamy on hold after the striker suffered a reaction in training to the knee injury which has kept him out since February.

The Newcastle manager, Bobby Robson, had pencilled Bellamy in for a place on the bench for tonight's trip to Aston Villa, and was even toying with playing the Welsh international from the start.

Bellamy's importance to the side was highlighted by Newcastle going five games without a win after his injury. Plans for his return are now up in the air following a training session yesterday, after which he complained of soreness around his knee.

It means that Carl Cort will be given another game to build on his goal-scoring performance in Good Friday's 6-2 victory over Everton. Robson believes that Cort's goal could provide the impetus for the former Wimbledon striker to rediscover his confidence after his own injury absence.

"He needed that goal," Robson said. "He's a very, very good player and he's had some wretched luck with his injuries. Hopefully he will now go on and be a big, big player for us, and be one for many, many years."

Newcastle's season appears to be revolving around injuries and recoveries. Kieron Dyer has returned following a stress fracture and has revived the Magpies' aims of securing a place in next season's Champions' League.

Apart from the doubts about Bellamy, Newcastle will also be without Gary Speed again, but Jamie McClen has a chance of shaking off his calf injury.

The Aston Villa manager, Graham Taylor, is likely to partner Darius Vassell with his new £4.5m striker Peter Crouch up front. Crouch made his debut at Bolton and Taylor said he was encouraged by his performance.

Juan Pablo Angel is likely to remain on the bench as he seems set to leave the club in the summer.

Even though he has scored 15 goals this season – and Villa have struggled in that department – Taylor feels it would be foolish to use the services of a player who is not committed to the cause.

Instead he sees Vassell and Crouch as the front-line future and the men to turn the club's fortunes around.

Villa go into the match having won only one of their seven games since Taylor replaced John Gregory as manager.

However, they have managed to cling on to a top-half place despite a string of poor results and just 37 goals in 32 league matches.

"With just one win in seven games, the problem has been turning it around," Taylor said. "The biggest problem has been scoring goals."

He added: "However, in the first half at Bolton we did look capable of doing that and that is something we have got to get right."