Premiership may go to penalties

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The Independent Online
Kevin Keegan and Alex Ferguson will find themselves well within shouting distance should a play-off be needed to decide the Premiership title.

The two managers, whose relationship has soured as the pressure has grown, will find themselves lining up at the head of their teams in the Wembley tunnel on Thursday, 16 May, if Manchester United and Newcastle United remain deadlocked after Sunday's final games.

The biggest match of the season, which has a fallback date of Tuesday, 21 May, should the FA Cup final need a replay, will have extra time and penalties if necessary. Ticket prices will range from pounds 10 to pounds 25, with each club receiving 36,000.

Keegan, who on Monday was stinging in his criticism of Ferguson, yesterday kept his thoughts to himself as Newcastle prepared for tonight's match at Nottingham Forest where Newcastle could break an 87-year record and draw level on points with the leaders.

They are looking to make it four clean sheets in a row - and the Toon Army have not seen their team do that since they won the title in 1908- 1909.

Keegan faces a selection problem with David Ginola ready to return after a one-match suspension. The Frenchman looks almost certain to play which leaves his manager with a straight choice between record buy Faustino Asprilla and Keith Gillespie, who scored the winner against Leeds on Monday.

"The manager has made no promises to me," Gillespie said. "I'll just have to wait until a couple of hours before kick-off like everybody else."

The England defender Steve Howey will miss the match because of a hamstring injury but could still be fit to face Tottenham in the season's finale on Sunday.

It is a different story for Steve Bruce. The Manchester United captain and centre-back, who has not played since tearing a hamstring a fortnight ago, will play no part in their last game Middlesbrough.

"Steve is out of the running for Sunday," Ferguson said. "There is no question about that. He hasn't done any running in training and he's still only just getting treatment."

Ferguson, who holds out some hope of Bruce making the Cup final against Liverpool on 11 May, had better news of Eric Cantona, the Frenchman having overcome a hip injury.

Queen's Park Rangers may have been relegated to the First Division but they showed they are still looking to the future by signing Carlisle's 19-year-old midfield player Paul Murray for an initial fee of pounds 300,000. Murray has been on loan to the Premiership club since March. The fee could rise to pounds 750,000 subject to appearances.