Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Ankle Injury May Sideline Martins

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Ankle Injury May Sideline Martins

Article excerpt

Byline: Luke Edwards

OBAFEMI Martins could miss Newcastle United's pre-season preparations with the ankle injury which forced him to withdraw from Nigeria's friendly international against Austria last week.

Martins did not play in United's final game of the season, the 3-1 defeat by Everton, because of the injury and there are fears the problem is more serious than initially thought. According to Nigeria national coach Shaibu Amodu, Martins has been told by doctors he will be sidelined for the next two months, which would mean the striker will be forced to sit out the bulk of United's pre-season programme.

Newcastle's players are expected to return to training on July 7, but it could be another month after that before Martins is able to train properly, let alone play a game.

Amodu said: "Obafemi said he had a scan on his ankle and the doctors said he'd be out for eight weeks. That was why he did not play against Austria." Martins picked up a niggling ankle injury while playing for Nigeria in the African Cup of Nations at the start of the year and missed all of Newcastle's February fixtures as a result. It is not known whether this latest problem is linked, but it is not thought the 23-year-old will need an operation.

Nevertheless, it is still bad news for United manager Kevin Keegan as it will cast serious doubts about Martins' ability to start the Premier League season as he will be so short of match fitness.

With Mark Viduka already expected to miss the start of the new campaign with an Achilles injury and Shola Ameobi set to leave the club after his wedding later this month, Newcastle's attacking resources are already in danger of being stretched.

However, that could be resolved by the arrival of England international Peter Crouch from Liverpool. The gangly striker is expected to leave Anfield this summer as he is frustrated by Rafael Benitez' squad rotation policy and Newcastle are one of a number of clubs monitoring the situation.

Should United sign Crouch, it would almost certainly mean the end of Alan Smith's Newcastle career. The former Manchester United forward only moved to Newcastle last summer because he wanted to start more games in the Premier League, but he is no longer guaranteed a place in the side and would see the arrival of Crouch as another setback as he tries to rebuild his reputation after a poor first year on Tyneside. …

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