Virus fear knocks Allardyce out of Uefa Cup

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The Independent Online

Sam Allardyce, the Bolton Wanderers manager, has taken sick leave just before tomorrow's Uefa Cup match against Vitoria Guimaraes in Portugal.

Allardyce is avoiding contact with his players over the next day or two as he tries to shake off a sore throat. He is leaving his back-room staff to take training at the club's Euxton base, near Chorley, as they continue their preparations for the Group H match.

"This virus I have can spread through a club like a dose of salts so I won't be having contact with the players today," Allardyce said. "I'll leave the work to the coaching staff because some players might be affected by my sore throat. They could go into the game not feeling 100 per cent and that's something we want to avoid."

Allardyce admits their Cup hopes received an unexpected boost when fog forced the postponement of Monday night's Premiership match at Birmingham. He had been geared up to reshuffle his line-up for tomorrow night but he will now have a fresh squad after nearly three weeks without any action.

Hidetoshi Nakata and Stelios Giannakopoulos were unlikely to play against Steve Bruce's side after international commitments with Japan and Greece respectively but are now free of fatigue for their next encounter.

"This next week or so was going to be hectic with us playing on Monday-Thursday then Sunday-Wednesday," said Allardyce. "Now we go into Thursday and perhaps our only plus from not playing at Birmingham is that the players will go into the Uefa Cup game feeling really fresh.

"The only players on international duty - Nakata and Giannakopoulos - probably wouldn't have been included at St Andrews because of the treks around the world they had made with their countries.

"They can come into the reckoning for Thursday now like everyone else and, apart from Ivan Campo and Henrik Pedersen, I have a fully fit squad - but I still would have rather played the game at Birmingham on Monday."

Allardyce added: "Will the postponement change the make-up of side for Thursday? Yes, it will do, but I also have to consider the fact we will be playing Fulham on Sunday.

"The players who play on Thursday will not have enough time to fully recover for Sunday. Some will play, some won't. I will play a side on Thursday and make five or six changes for Sunday."

The strikers Kevin Davies and El Hadji Diouf have both recovered from a rib injury and a knock respectively and are ready to face Guimaraes.

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