Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Viduka Blow

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Viduka Blow

Article excerpt

Byline: Eric Paylor

Gareth Southgate has suffered a body blow with the news that Mark Viduka has been ruled out for six weeks after X-rays showed he broke a toe in the derby against Newcastle.

The 31-year-old Australian suffered his injury in the first half of Sunday's Riverside Stadium match, which Boro won 1-0 thanks to Yakubu's late goal.

Southgate said: "It's disappointing for Mark and disappointing for the team because he was starting to get his sharpness back.

"But injuries are part and parcel of the game so we have to live with it.

"What Mark's injury does is open up opportunities for other people. It's up to those players to take them."

The injury also raises fresh questions about Viduka's future at the club.

The Aussie's contract is due to run out next summer, which means that he is free to talk to other clubs in January - unless Boro have come along with a new deal by that time.

The injury means that Southgate is unable to reassess Viduka's form for some time, as it will be December before the striker is back in Premiership action.

Southgate said: "We have had no talks so far about a contract, though we know that Mark's best years could still be in front of him.

"He enjoys his football here and he still retains a passion and a hunger to achieve things in the game.

"Physically he is in very good shape. It is about internal drive and desire and at the moment he has the bit between his teeth and wants to play every week and score goals, so this injury is a big setback for him."

Jason Euell is the the likely contender to partner Yakubu until Viduka returns, though Southgate could also adopt a five-man midfield on an occasional basis.

Meanwhile, Newcastle United defender Peter Ramage believes painful memories of last year's Carling Cup exit against Wigan can spur the Magpies on to glory in this year's competition. …

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