Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Nationwide League

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Nationwide League

Article excerpt

Crystal Palace v Watford

TREVOR FRANCIS, the Palace manager, will have to reshuffle his defence again for the home game against Watford after losing Curtis Fleming to a hamstring injury. Fleming is likely to be out for at least two weeks and joins long-term casualties Tony Popovic and Kit Symons on the sidelines.

Jamie Smith is likely to be recalled to the starting line-up in place of Fleming, with Dean Austin and Shaun Murphy starting as the central pair.

Midfielder Simon Rodger is in contention once again after a back injury but David Hopkin is still out with a calf strain.

Watford manager Gianluca Vialli is set to hand new signing Gavin Mahon his debut.

The former Brentford midfielder, signed for [pound]150,000 last week, is in the squad for Selhurst Park and is tipped to start.

Vialli said: "Gavin is fit and he wants to play. He's had a very successful season at Brentford and he's been one of their main players. He was out of contract in June but we wanted to do things correctly by getting him on board now."

Mahon is likely to replace Jamie Hand in midfield and Paul Okon is still out injured. Heidar Helguson is suspended and Patrick Blondeau is rated doubtful.

Palace: Last 5 League games: D0-0, L5-2, W4-1, L1-0, D1-1 Next 3 League games: Tomorrow, Watford (H); 16 Mar, Manchester City (A); 23 Mar, Walsall (H) League position: 7th Watford: Last 5 League games: D1-1, L1-0, W2-1, L3-2, D0-0 Next 3 League games: Tomorrow, Crystal Palace (A), 16 Mar, Coventry (H); 23 Mar, Barnsley (A).

League position: 13th

Millwall

MILLWALL striker Steve Claridge believes burnout could scupper the Lions' hopes of reaching the Premiership.

Mark McGhee's young side are fourth in Division One and will tomorrow go closer to sealing a playoff spot if they take three points at struggling Portsmouth.

But Claridge said: "I'm glad there are only nine games left. We've worked so hard and you can see there are a lot of tired legs out there. Our work rate is one of our main strengths but it's been difficult to keep the tempo going all season.

"But it's up to us now and if we're not good enough to go up from the position we're in then we have only got ourselves to blame."

Striker Richard Sadlier (back) is doubtful, but Sean Dyche, who has missed the last two games through illness, and Marc Bircham, who limped off on Tuesday, should be fit. Midfielder Steven Reid is hopeful of overcoming a hamstring strain which has kept him out for two weeks.

Last 5 League games: W2-1, D1-1, L1-0, W1-0, W2-1 Next 3 League games: Tomorrow, Portsmouth (A), 16 Mar, Sheffield Wed (H); 19 Mar, Sheffield Utd (A) League position: 4th

Wimbledon

MIDFIELDER Hakan Mild will be out for at least three weeks after he underwent an operation on his injured groin. …

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