Shearer in fear of new operation

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Alan Shearer, who was yesterday described as "England's jewel in the crown" by Glenn Hoddle, has consulted a leading specialist amid fears that he needs a second groin operation.

The world's most expensive footballer, whose two goals against Poland on Wednesday saved coach Hoddle from World Cup embarrassment, faces a month out of action.

Shearer saw a Harley Street specialist while in London with the England squad and Newcastle's pounds 15m striker has been advised that he will need an operation on the opposite side to where he went under the knife in May. The medical advice is that he may be able to play on for a few months, but the injury will eventually need attention.

Shearer came back from the first operation to become the leading scorer in the Euro 96 finals. However, it is common for players who have surgery on one side of the groin to need similar work done on the other soon afterwards.

The signs are not good for Shearer, Newcastle or England. He carried on unable to train for a couple of months last season, before missing the final two games for Blackburn Rovers when they were pushing for a Uefa Cup place.

Now the timing of possible surgery will be down to Shearer and the Newcastle manager, Kevin Keegan, while keeping one eye on England's needs.

Shearer's absence from England's World Cup campaign - they play Georgia away next month and Italy at home in February - would be calamitous. His performance against Poland had Hoddle likening him to Gerd Muller, Mario Kempes, and Paolo Rossi.

"He's our jewel in the crown," Hoddle said, adding how vital it is to have the edge a world-class striker gives a team at international level.

Fans wishing to ensure they see a fully fit Shearer in action against Italy will have to pay for tickets for the home games against Georgia and Moldova as well.

Tickets for the game on 12 February are not on sale until the new year, but an application form can be obtained by calling a Wembley hotline number, with tickets for the Italy game priced at between pounds 60 and pounds 14 and seats for the encounters against Georgia on 30 April and Moldova on 10 September both priced between pounds 55 and pounds 14. The FA's view is that the scheme encourages loyalty by enabling supporters booking early to guarantee tickets.

Tomas Brolin has threatened to retire from football if Leeds refuse to bow to his demands to stay on loan with FC Zurich until Christmas. The 26-year-old Swedish international striker, whose loan spell in Switzerland has officially ended, stormed out of a meeting at Elland Road yesterday which had ben called to discuss his return to the club.

Leeds' club solicitor, Peter McCormack, accused him of being "silly", and said Leeds would consider suing Brolin, who was signed from Parma nearly a year ago for pounds 4.5m, if he carried out his threat.

Sheffield Wednesday moved closer to finalising a pounds 2.65m deal for Internazionale's Benito Carbone after the 25-year-old midfielder had talks with David Pleat at Hillsborough yesterday.

Paul McGrath has joined Derby County and will play against Newcastle United tomorrow. The 36-year-old defender, who has signed a contract until the end of the season, is expected to cost pounds 200,000, depending on appearances.

Bosman ruling hits Spurs, page 22