Keegan goes against United

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Kevin Keegan, the Newcastle United manger, yesterday discounted the chances of his old rivals, Manchester United, as he prepared his team to face the title favourites Liverpool in tonight's crucial match at St James' Park.

Keegan warned his fifth-place side had to improve "otherwise, in a month's time, we'll be saying at least we've still got Europe." He added: "If I had to knock us out of it I would say that the championship will come from Liverpool, Arsenal or Aston Villa." Newcastle are without David Batty, who completes a three-match ban, and injured trio John Beresford, Faustino Asprilla and Steve Howey.

Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson said that he was prepared go before an inquiry to defend his club's decision to request a postponement of Saturday's Premiership match at Blackburn. "We will tell the truth," he said. "We will tell the League of our problems."

The match was postponed on Friday when Middlesbrough claimed they could not field a team that would do justice to the club and paying public, claiming they had 23 players injured or ill. Gibson said: "If we had played an under-strength side in the Coca-Cola Cup we could have left ourselves open to a fine, so we are hoping the authorities will read the situation the same way."

A disciplinary hearing will be set up in the new year to look into the reasons behind Boro's action. The Blackburn Rovers caretaker manager, Tony Parkes, believes that his side should be awarded the three points.

Jurgen Klinsmann has been told by Lothar Matthaus, the Bayern Munich captain, it is time to make up his mind about whether he intends to stay with the German club or leave it, because the uncertainty was hurting the team. The club president, Franz Beckerbauer, said on Saturday he expected the player to stay for the rest of the season and beyond.