Defence fitness update

Last updated : 01 November 2002 By Matyn Elliott

Nikos suspended, Duncan normally suspended
It now seems certain that Aaron Hughes will fill one of the centre-half berths against the smoggies on Monday, even if O’Brien is fit.

This will leave either Robbie Elliott or Olivier Bernard to mark on-loan Cameroon international Geremi, which isn’t something I’m looking forward to too much. Whilst Elliott’s commitment can never be faulted and Bernard has bright moments going forward, I don’t really think either of them is in the same class as the Real Madrid man.

With the game against Everton coming only two days later it seems that Marcelino is now certain to feature at some point in the next week, unless Sir Bobby decides to throw Steve Caldwell in.

Speaking about the injuries Dabizas told the Journal: "With three games in six days fitness was always going to be a problem and both Titus and Andy have suffered.

"The pace of the game in the Champions League and the Premiership is so fast that's it's easy to pick up injuries. These things will always happen.

"It's unfortunate for them, but we have to come through the injuries and suspensions if we're going to achieve anything.

"We want to be successful and that's why the manager has been rebuilding the squad over the last three years. It's at times like this when the strength in depth pays dividends.

"You have to have at least 20 senior players ready to play their part at any stage of the season and we will need everyone to be at their best in the next fortnight.

"Hopefully Titus or Andy will be back to face Middlesbrough and Aaron Hughes is an excellent centre-half. But we'll still be short of numbers at the back and it will be another test of this team's spirit and determination."

At the minute we can only hope that either O’Brien or Bramble recovers before Monday.

****Thanks to all of you who contacted me after an article yesterday to point out that Dabizas was suspended after his sending off at Blackburn.

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