Future in doubt for 'missing' Asprilla

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The Independent Online
Faustino Asprilla's future at Newcastle United was thrown into doubt yesterday when the pounds 7.5m striker failed to return from World Cup duty with Colombia.

"We don't know where he is," the Newcastle manager, Kevin Keegan, said as he prepared his team for today's Premiership game at Derby County. The forward's no-show almost certainly rules him out of Tuesday's Uefa Cup tie at Ferencvaros.

Asprilla has been in South America, where he scored Colombia's goal in the 1-0 win away to Ecuador on Wednesday. He then failed to meet a Newcastle official in London to arrange a visa for the cup trip to Hungary.

"We have received a fax from Colombia saying that the plane was stranded," Keegan said. "We know that it has since taken off, but we don't know where Tino is."

Asprilla went missing at the end of last season on the eve of an international match and was found to have been drinking with friends at a horse show.

The former Parma striker has made it clear he does not enjoy being on the periphery of the first-team since Alan Shearer's arrival and has indicated he would like to return to Italy.

Shearer has dismissed speculation that he might need a second groin operation. "I have just been for a check-up and there are no problems," he said. "Newcastle and England fans have nothing to worry about."

Queen's Park Rangers' likely decision to grant Trevor Sinclair's transfer request will set cheque-books snapping open at a host of clubs. "Although we don't want to lose good players, we also only want players who are committed," Chris Wright, QPR's owner, said: "Trevor has asked for a transfer and that request will be dealt with by the board at their next meeting."

Tottenham have already had a pounds 2.5m bid turned down, with Arsenal, Blackburn, Leeds United and Sheffield Wednesday, eager to join the auction.

Leeds are considering "the various legal remedies at its disposal," in the dispute with Tomas Brolin after his threat to retire rather than play for them again. The Swede, who cost Leeds pounds 4.5m from Parma barely a year ago, wants to remain on loan in Switzerland.

The short career of the Italian striker Andreas Silenzi at Nottingham Forest is to come to an end with a loan move to the Serie B side Venezia.