Pallister has knee operation

Click to follow
Manchester United's black October came to an end yesterday but not before the club had suffered one last blow. Gary Pallister went into hospital to have his troublesome knee examined and discovered he needed a cartilage operation.

It was done immediately using keyhole surgery but the defender will be out for at least a month. He was immediately pulled out of the England squad for next Saturday's World Cup qualifier in Georgia, which is to be announced today. Tony Adams, the Arsenal defender who has just come back from a knee operation himself, is thus expected to be recalled.

United also withdrew Ryan Giggs from the Welsh squad to play the Netherlands next weekend. Wales are already without Mark Hughes, who is suspended. Giggs has been suffering with a calf injury for several weeks and has only just resumed training.

United hope to have Giggs back for the visit of Arsenal on 16 November. The target for Pallister is the Champions' League game away to Rapid Vienna on 4 December.

"I have to keep my fingers crossed that nothing happens to Ronny Johnsen or David May before the Juventus game," said Alex Ferguson yesterday, touching wood as he did so. "It is a risk but it would have been a bigger risk to have tried to patch up Pally. He might have broken down in the match itself."

Pallister's England colleague, Paul Gascoigne, is likely to be retained in the England squad for the trip to Georgia. Women's groups have led demands for the Rangers player to be axed for his alleged beating of his wife, Sheryl - stories he has not denied.

The England coach, Glenn Hoddle, yesterday held further discussions with the Football Association chairman, Keith Wiseman, about how to handle the controversy. However, though concerned with its public image, the FA is prepared to leave the final decision to Hoddle, especially so early in his reign.

All the signs are that he will not cast Gascoigne into purgatory. In fact, as well as standing by his man, Hoddle may bring back another footballing reprobate, Ian Wright, to give forward cover because of the absence of Alan Shearer, who is recovering from a groin operation.

Stuart Pearce has missed the last two Nottingham Forest games with a back problem and that gives Hoddle more problems. Graeme Le Saux is at last back in action for Blackburn and Phil Neville is playing again for Manchester United, though they are both desperately short of match practice. Coventry's John Salako might provide the surprise left-sided cover.