Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

New Battle of Wounded Knee for Unlucky Craig

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

New Battle of Wounded Knee for Unlucky Craig

Article excerpt

Byline: By Luke Edwards

The season has not even begun, but Newcastle United's injury problems are already a cause for concern. Luke Edwards reports.

As Newcastle United's tired-looking squad touched down at Bangkok international airport yesterday, the bubbly presence of Craig Bellamy was notable by its absence.

While Euro 2004 men Jonathan Woodgate and Kieron Dyer had been told they could miss the trip to the Far East and Hugo Viana was given compassionate leave to attend a family function in his native Portugal, Bellamy's withdrawal had not been expected and immediately prompted cause for concern.

Instead of sweating in the Thailand heat, the striker is sweating at home about a pain in his knee.

While the early indications from a scan have not shown any signs of a major problem, Sir Bobby Robson was not prepared to take any chances on the fitness of a player who has been cursed with bad luck when it comes to his physical well being.

Robson said yesterday the twinge was not thought to be linked to the surgery which kept the forward out for two-thirds of last season, an absence which cost his team dearly as they ultimately missed out on Champions League qualification.

But, after two seasons decimated by knee problems, there is naturally a fear this could be the start of another nightmare for the 24-year-old.

After all, the previous season was only a couple of weeks old when Bellamy first complained of stiffness in his troublesome joint, was told simply to rest and then resumed playing.

On that occasion the early signs were also good, only for the pain to linger until eventually the player was forced to have yet another operation, the fifth of his short career, while United argued with the Welsh FA as to who was to blame for his breakdown.

The mental, as well as the physical recuperation, has been a huge drain on the former PFA Young player of the Year and he will undoubtedly have his fears over this latest setback, despite receiving a positive verdict from the medical experts. …

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