Ravanelli looks no further than Wembley

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Fabrizio Ravanelli has been given leave of absence by the Italian coach, Cesare Maldini, to miss this week's World Cup double-header dates with Moldova and Poland, enhancing the Middlesbrough striker's chances of making the Coca-Cola Cup final.

Bryan Robson, Ravanelli's club manager, is increasingly hopeful that he will overcome a hamstring problem before Boro face Leicester at Wembley on 6 April. But while the former Juventus player is confident of making the final he was not prepared to discuss his future at the Riverside.

Ravanelli has missed Boro's last two games through injury, although Robson said yesterday: "He feels he'll be back in training by Sunday and that would give a full week of training leading up to the final."

At the Italian squad's training camp in Florence, the player himself said: "The doctor has told me I have to rest for three days, but then I can start work. My aim is to become the first Italian to win a cup in England and I hope I can make the Coca-Cola Cup final, because I know we can [win] it."

Pressed on the rest of the season, however, Ravanelli was non-committal. "Not only do I think we can win at least one of the cups, but I'm convinced we'll stay in the Premiership," he said.

"But as for other things and my future, I'll only think about them at the end of the season."

Alf Inge Haland is likewise convinced his club, Nottingham Forest, will stay in the Premiership, but believes the fight for survival will go right to the wire.

Forest, currently third-from-bottom, have only five games left to save themselves from relegation, with only eight points separating the bottom seven clubs.

They have gleaned two precious points from successive 1-1 draws away, to fellow strugglers Sunderland and Middlesbrough. Now they must take full advantage of their three remaining home games if Forest are to escape relegation.

"It's so tight at the bottom of the table that it looks like the fight to stay up is going to go all the way to the end of the season," Haland said.

"We're struggling but the morale is still good at the club and that can be a big help. We're hanging in there and we're quite confident that we'll stay up."

Whether Haland remains at the City Ground to play his part in the survival battle will become clear by tomorrow. The Norwegian international, who scored Forest's goal against Boro on Monday night, has until tomorrow's transfer deadline to sign an extension to his existing contract, which expires in the summer.