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The BBC's Steve Wilson
"Sinclair was excellent throughout"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 8 March, 2000, 22:36 GMT
Pearce career on line after broken leg

Victory takes West Ham into the top six
West Ham 2-0 Southampton

Stuart Pearce's distinguished playing career could be at an end after he suffered a broken leg for the second time in six months.

The 37-year-old West Ham defender - one of English football's most recognisable characters - was stretchered off the pitch after just nine minutes of the Premiership match with Southampton.


Knowing Stuart as I do he will come back next season fighting fit and will probably kick some right winger up in the air in his first game.

Harry Redknapp
West Ham went on to win the game 2-0 thanks to goals from Paulo Wanchope and Trevor Sinclair - but the result was overshadowed by Pearce's agonising blow.

Hammers boss Harry Redknapp refused to write off his tough-tackling defender, however.

"I am sick for Stuart, and so are all the players," said Redknapp. "Obviously he is gutted, but I have no doubts that he will play again.

"There are not many Stuart Pearces in football. We are talking about the man who was the best left-back in the world six or seven years ago. He was like Superman, one of the greatest players we have ever seen."

The former Nottingham Forest left-back injured the same leg he broke against Watford last September when he tackled Saints striker Kevin Davies.


Trevor Sinclair: Star of the show
In typical Pearce fashion, he refused to be stretchered off and limped to the Upton Park medical room, where X-rays confirmed his left leg was broken.

Many experts believed the first fracture would cause Pearce's retirement - but the player renowned for his whole-hearted approach to the game defied the odds by battling back to full fitness.

Less than three games into his comeback, however, he was floored again - and this time the ageing defender is likely to struggle to return to top-flight action.

Pearce famously missed a penalty in England's shoot-out defeat by West Germany in the 1990 World Cup semi-finals.

But his place in footballing folklore was assured when he took another spot-kick against Spain in Euro 96 - and this time scored.

Upwardly mobile

West Ham's comfortable win takes them five places up the Premiership table to fifth spot.

And, aside from the Pearce setback, there was further good news for manager Harry Redknapp with the return to full fitness of star player Paolo Di Canio.


Davies holds off the challenge of goalscorer Wanchope
The Italian, who had missed the last two games, came off the bench for the closing stages - to a rapturous reception from the East End faithful.

West Ham impressed from the first whistle and Pearce himself could have scored with a half-volley that was blocked by Southampton keeper Paul Jones.

The visitors had their own chances, though, and Craig Forrest did well to keep out Hassan Kachloul's point-blank strike with his legs.

Sinclair, chosen as a striker in the continued absence of Di Canio, was the most incisive player on the park and he made the opening goal after 18 minutes.

Match facts
9: Pearce's leg is broken in challenge on Davies
18: Sinclair sets up Wanchope for West Ham's first
48: Sinclair turns goalscorer to wrap up the win
He produced a prodigious run down the right flank before crossing for Wanchope to sweep home from eight yards.

Southampton came so close to levelling the scores after 31 minutes, but Davies blasted against the crossbar.

West Ham pushed on in search of the second and Jones saved from Frank Lampard, before Wanchope headed wide in first-half injury time.

Hammers duly doubled the lead three minutes into the second half, however, courtesy of the outstanding Sinclair.

The England international cut in from the left and smacked a low 20-yard drive that beat Jones at his near post.

Teams:

West Ham: Forrest, S. Pearce, Stimac, Ferdinand, Lomas, Lampard, Moncur, Foe, Cole, Sinclair, Wanchope.
Subs: Feuer, Kitson, Di Canio, Minto, Keller.

Southampton: Jones, Dodd, Marsden, Lundekvam, Oakley, Davies, Benali, Pahars, Bridge, Tessem, Kachloul.
Subs: Moss, M. Hughes, Rodrigues, Monk, Soltvedt.

Referee: S Lodge (Barnsley)
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