Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Duff Poses a New Defensive Dilemma

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Duff Poses a New Defensive Dilemma

Article excerpt


DAMIEN Duff has set Glenn Roeder yet another defensive dilemma after it emerged that the unfortunate Irishman has suffered an adverse reaction to his long-awaited Premiership comeback, writes PAUL GILDER.

And with a London specialist having told Newcastle's medical team that Charles N'Zogbia's recovery from a knee ligament problem will take twice as long as originally expected, the club's fitness troubles continue to mount.

Duff had been pencilled in to deputise at left-back for the suspended Celestine Babayaro when United take on Chelsea in the Carling Cup quarterfinals this evening.

But following his first appearance in four weeks against Watford at the weekend, the 27-year-old has complained of knee pain.

The former Stamford Bridge favourite underwent an operation to correct a cartilage problem last month.

But Roeder is confident the latest setback is not a serious one and has refused to rule Duff out of this weekend's top-flight encounter with Tottenham at St James's Park.

"It is a shame given that Chelsea is one of his former clubs," said the Magpies boss of a player who returned to action earlier than expected when he made a 22-minute appearance as a substitute during Saturday's 2-1 league triumph.

"We're not overly concerned at the moment but he is experiencing a slight pain around the site of the cartilage operation that he has just had.

"We don't think it's anything more than a little bit of scar tissue remaining from the operation - it's ironic that he had the same operation on the other knee when he was at Chelsea last year.

"Things went to plan there, he was fit again in three weeks, but then he missed a week with the same kind of pain he has now. If he doesn't make this game, I'm hopeful he will be okay for the game against Tottenham."

Duff is not expected to make it and his absence will leave Roeder with considerable problems.

Babayaro's indiscipline could cost his current club dear against his former, with the African joining Craig Moore, Titus Bramble and Stephen Carr on the list of unavailable defenders. Roeder is reluctant to break the central defensive partnership of Peter Ramage and Steven Taylor and is not planning to ask either player to switch to full-back, even as a one-off. …

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