Johnson likely to miss final

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The Independent Online
Tommy Johnson's dream of playing in the Coca-Cola Cup final at Wembley on Sunday looks increasingly likely to be shattered by the injury which has dogged him for the past month.

The Aston Villa striker has missed the side's last nine games with a thigh injury and with the Aston Villa manager, Brian Little, having to contend with a crop of fitness problems before the final against Leeds, the 25-year-old Johnson could find himself classed as one risk too many.

Johnson may get a chance to prove his fitness in tonight's reserve game against Manchester City although Little, who is also worried about his right-back Gary Charles, who accompanied the striker to Villa from Derby in January last year, said that he was not viewing the game as a fitness deadline.

However, Little, more confident about Gareth Southgate, Ian Taylor and Riccardo Scimeca, did indicate that Johnson's hopes of playing against Howard Wilkinson's side were fading.

"Tommy has been out a long time and to expect him to play on Sunday is perhaps too much," Little said. "We will know a bit more by Friday and we're hoping that a few of the injuries will clear up over the next 24 hours or so but for Tommy to walk out at Wembley having missed nine games might be too much of a risk to take."

Winger Franz Carr's hopes of playing a part, seemingly written off by Little on Tuesday, have slightly increased but there is more chance of another hamstring victim, Ian Taylor, being in the side.

"Ian, like Gareth really, has got to do a bit and not have a reaction before we'll know he's OK," Little said. "I am sure that by the weekend most of those who are injured at the moment will say they are free to play but whether they will be fit to play is another matter.

"I wanted to see a few of them playing against Middlesbrough on Tuesday night but they told me they weren't fit and if you're not fit you can't play.

"I suppose you could say that one or two of them have been dictating terms to me in the last few days but now it's my turn and to be honest I enjoy that sort of thing."

The Everton striker Daniel Amokachi will lead the Nigerian national side at this summer's Olympic Games in Atlanta. The 23-year-old striker has been made captain by his country, which partially makes up for losing out on the chance to play in the African Nations tournament after a boycott by Nigeria.

Amokachi is his nation's most experienced player with 36 caps - and he is hoping to inspire his side to an improvement on their performance at the 1994 World Cup, when he scored twice.

"It's a great honour. Playing in the World Cup finals in America was one of my best moments, but not many footballers get the chance to play in the Olympic Games and win a gold medal," he said.

"We must have a good chance of winning a medal, but Brazil will probably be pre-tournament favourites."

Kilmarnock have failed in their bid to sign Airdrie's Jim McIntyre after they were unable to finalise personal terms with the striker.

Kilmarnock agreed a pounds 150,000 fee for the 23-year-old with the First Division club, but McIntyre, who has been followed by several clubs including title- chasing Celtic, turned down a move to Rugby Park.

Alex Totten, the Kilmarnock manager, said: "We gave the player what we thought to be the going rate after agreeing a fee with his club and he turned us down, so the deal is off.

"We bid for a player in England last week and that was turned down, but we are aware that we have to bring in better players than we already have."