Ince ready to face Rovers

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The Independent Online
Paul Ince looks set to make a return to the Manchester United side for their match with the Premiership leaders, Blackburn Rovers, on Sunday.

The midfielder has been missing from action since Boxing Day after suffering a hamstring injury against Chelsea, but will test his fitness today in a reserve-team game against Stoke.

If he comes through the match without any problems, the United manager, Alex Ferguson, may recall him to replace Roy Keane, who also has hamstring problems following an injury he picked up in last Sunday's game with Newcastle.

Speculation has mounted that United's £7m signing, Andy Cole, will make his debut in the reserves, but Ferguson insists he will not play the British record-buy, as he wants to keep him fresh for Sunday.

Mark Hughes, the United striker, was due to be released from a Manchester hospital yesterday following an injury to his knee in a collision with the Newcastle goalkeeper, Pavel Srnicek, at St James' Park. The Welsh international needed 15 stitches and also damaged tendons, although the injury was not as serious as feared.

The Nigerian striker, Rashidi Yekini, will be out of action for at least eight months after undergoing surgery for ruptured knee ligaments. The former African Footballer of the Year was injured during Nigeria's friendly against England at Wembley last November.

Jose Antonio de La Fuente, the Sporting Gijon club surgeon, said Tuesday's operation was a complete success, but added that eight months' rest were a minimum before he could start training again. Yekini's transfer from Olympiakos of Greece was cancelled when the Spanish club discovered the injury at a routine medical.

In a Four Nations under-23 tournament, last night's match between South Korea and Denmark ended in a goalless draw, a result that ensured both teams qualified for the final, which will be played in Sydney on Saturday night.

Both teams finished the round-robin stage with one victory and two draws apiece. In the other match of the evening, Gabriel Mendez scored in the 43rd minute to give Australia a 1-0 win over Japan.

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