Merson to be out of action for six weeks: Football

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The Independent Online
Paul Merson will be out of the game for up to six weeks after a hernia operation yesterday. As well as missing several games for Arsenal, he will also be unavailable for England's friendly against Mexico at Wembley on 29 March.

Arsenal are playing down a report they are to sign Blackburn's Graeme Le Saux for pounds 4m. The former Chelsea defender is reportedly keen to return to London, but his former manager, Kenny Dalglish, is also believed to be interested in signing him for Newcastle.

The Polish international striker Marek Citko, with whom Liverpool had hoped to discuss a pounds 2.5m move from Widzew Lodz, has been ruled out for a fortnight with an ankle injury. There will now be no deal before the transfer deadline later this month.

The Football Association has told Jay Notley, the 18-year-old Charlton midfielder, that he can resume his football career. Notley failed a drugs test in November last year, testing positive for cocaine, cannabis and Ecstasy. While serving a three-month ban, he underwent rehabilitation at an FA-approved centre. He will resume training on Monday.

Newcastle United will not have to face Fabien Barthez, the goalkeeper who has replaced Bernard Lama as France's No 1 this season, when they attempt to overturn the 1-0 deficit they take into the return leg of their Uefa Cup quarter-final against Monaco in Monte Carlo on Tuesday. Barthez, who made a late save from Keith Gillespie in the first leg at St James' Park, has a fractured cheekbone.

Nottingham Forest's Bryan Roy is facing disciplinary action after a row with the club's general manager, Dave Bassett. The Dutch striker reacted angrily to being substituted in Tuesday's 1-1 draw at Blackburn. "Bryan is now looking at a possible fine," Bassett said. It has been reported that Roy may lose as much as pounds 6,000.

Manchester City have signed the Dutch Under-21 defender Gerard Wiekens from the Dutch Second Division side Veendam for pounds 800,000. Aston Villa have turned down a pounds 2m bid from Derby to take the striker Tommy Johnson back to the Baseball Ground. Bolton have offered cash plus players for the pounds 2.5m-rated Stoke striker Mike Sheron.

The Italian captain, Paolo Maldini, has denied fresh speculation linking him with Chelsea. The left-back, who is under contract at Milan until 2001, said the Chelsea manager, Ruud Gullit, and Milan's acting president, Adriano Galliani, "ring one another regularly", but did not think they had discussed his future.

n The Wales manager, Bobby Gould, has recalled Mark Bowen, David Phillips and Clayton Blackmore, but not Ian Rush, to his squad for the World Cup qualifier against Belgium in Cardiff on 29 March.

WALES SQUAD (World Cup Group Seven v Belgium, Cardiff Arms Park, 29 March): Southall (Everton), Crossley (Nottm Forest), Marriott (Wrexham), P Jones (Stockport); Bowen (West Ham), Jenkins (Huddersfield), Page (Watford), Ready (QPR), Symons (Manr City), Horne (Birmingham), V Jones (Wimbledon), Williams (Wolves), Pembridge (Sheff Wed), Robinson (Charlton), C Hughes (Luton), Speed (Everton), Savage (Crewe), Giggs (Man Utd), Hartson (West Ham), Blake (Bolton), Legg (Birmingham), M Hughes (Chelsea), Saunders (Nottm Forest), Browning (Huddersfield), Taylor (Sheff United), Neilson (Southampton), Blackmore (Middlesbrough), Phillips (Nottm Forest), Roberts (Wolves).