Toon versus Smoggies team news

Last updated : 03 November 2002 By Martyn Elliott

Kieron auditions for a part in Fame
Definitely missing are Craig Bellamy, still recuperating from his knee problems, Nikos Dabizas, suspended after his red card at Blackburn, and Titus Bramble, whose hamstring injury will keep him out for around three weeks.

On the plus side Kieron Dyer is fit to start and he will either replace Jermaine Jenas or partner Alan Shearer up front. Jenas can count himself very unlucky if he is omitted.

Should Kieron start in midfield, Sir Bobby will have to choose between Lomana Lua Lua and Shola Ameobi to partner Shearer. Given the aerial prowess of Gareth Southgate and Ugo Ehiogu the tricky skills of Lua Lua may be the way to go.

At the back the selection will prove tricky, as Andy O’Brien is also doubtful with the back problem that forced him off against Kyiv.

If O’Brien is fit Sir Bobby will have to decide whether to move Aaron Hughes in to the middle and play Olivier Bernard at left back, or leave Hughes on the left to cope with the threat of Geremi and recall Spanish international Marcelino at centre half.

I’m not a big fan of the Spanish layabout, but he could well be the best option against the threat of Alen Boksic, Massimo Macarrone and Joseph Desire Job.

If O’Brien is unfit then both Marcelino and Bernard will start with Robbie Elliott recalled to the bench.

Of course, we could see another 3-5-2 experiment…..

For them Robbie Stockdale is available again after injury and Boksic is expected to shake off a bout of flu and start.

Their only major absentee will be Brazilian World Cup winner Juninho, who is still recovering from a cruciate ligament injury.

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