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Saturday, September 18, 1999 Published at 13:13 GMT 14:13 UK

Robson ready for basement battle

Thursday: Robson sees Duncan Ferguson walk off with another injury

Bobby Robson's first home game as Newcastle United manager this Sunday is a crucial bottom-of-the-table encounter with Sheffield Wednesday.

Neither team has won a match this season and both are rooted at the basement with only one point each from a possible 21.

Robson has seen some improvement since he arrived, with a narrow defeat at Chelsea last week followed by a European away win on Thuesday.

The manager was particularly impressed with the form of captain Alan Shearer during the Magpies 2-0 away leg victory against CSKA Sofia in the Uefa Cup.

"I thought in Sofia his movement was superb and his hold-up play was excellent, as it always is," said Robson. "His movement was much better."

Shearer picked up an ankle injury in training but should be fit for the home match against the Owls.

Striker Duncan Ferguson is doubtful for the game after suffering from a hamstring spasm in the European tie, although it is not as serious as first thought.

Defenders Nikos Dabizas (suspended) and Marcelino Elena (long-term injury) will miss the game.

Sheffield Wednesday boss Danny Wilson will be without Phillip Scott after the midfielder underwent knee surgery this week.

Doubts remain over the fitness of Phil O'Donnell, Andy Hinchcliffe, Wim Jonk, Peter Atherton and Simon Donnelly.

Leeds v Middlesbrough

Leeds boss David O'Leary is hoping for his side to improve their home form, starting with Sunday's match with Middlesbrough.

[ image: Juninho: Wait for Riverside return]
Juninho: Wait for Riverside return
"Our results away from home have been better than at home," said O'Leary.

"That's because it's harder to play at Elland Road due to teams coming here with a negative attitude and we find it hard to break them down."

After theirn entertaining 4-3 win at Coventry, O'Leary also wants his side to tighten up at the back

"We have also been conceding silly goals - even though we have been scoring plenty - and I want us to cut that out."

Michael Duberry (thigh) and Stephen McPhail (ankle) are the only players missing from O'Leary's squad, with midfielders David Hopkin and Lee Bowyer both fit after shaking off minor injuries.

For Boro, Juninho's registration has not been processed in time and Paul Gascoigne is ruled out with a calf injury.

But Republic of Ireland international Keith O'Neill is fit to return in midfield and defender Gianluca Festa may also be back after injury.

Everton v West Ham

West Ham have been enjoying a fantastic run of form which has seen them lose one match in 12 since their midsummer start in the Intertoto Cup.

They have done it despite injuries to key defenders Ian Pearce, Neil Ruddock, Rio Ferdinand, Scott Minto and Stuart Pearce.

"We've had a real hard time at the back with injuries but when one goes missing someone comes in and does a wonderful job," said goalkeeper Shaka Hislop.

Everton manager Walter Smith's team is in ninth place, but the Goodison boss is not getting carried away.

"We have got off to a reasonable start, no more than that so far," said Smith.

"What will hit us is injuries and suspensions but that hasn't happened yet."

The former Rangers boss will be without Mark Pembridge and Terry Phelan on Sunday, but has Irish defender Richard Dunne back from suspension.

Tottenham v Coventry

Spurs defender Chris Perry has scored twice in the club's last two games, but remains modest about his new-found ability to hit the net.

[ image: Chris Perry: Goal-scoring exploits]
Chris Perry: Goal-scoring exploits
"The fact that I am scoring goals has a lot to do with delivery of crosses," said Perry.

"It isn't a lot to do with me, I just stick my head on it. David (Ginola) puts balls in the right areas and you can't help but score a lot of the time.

"I scored four in my Wimbledon career, now I've got two in two games which is unusual for me."

Spurs boss George Graham has Les Ferdinand back from injury but sill has a lengthy list of casualties - Sol Campbell, Darren Anderton, Ramon Vega, John Scales and Willem Korsten.

Coventry boss Gordon Strachan will be able to recall Robbie Keane, Mustapha Hadji and Youssef Chippo for the trip to White Hart Lane.

The trio were unavailable for Tuesday's 5-1 defeat at Tranmere in the Worthington Cup.

John Aloisi, Paul Telfer and Noel Whelan are all missing with longer-term injuries but could all be back to face West Ham next weekend.

Meanwhile Strachan may risk a Premier League fine by playing on-loan signing Carlton Palmer.

Nottingham Forest were 20 minutes late returning his registration documents but Coventry are taking legal advice.

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