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Friday, 24 May, 2002, 09:27 GMT 10:27 UK

Murphy's injury explained

When David Beckham broke his second metatarsal bone, experts suggested it was a rare football injury.

Since then, Gary Neville and Danny Murphy have been ruled out of the World Cup with similar injuries.

Murphy, the latest victim of the metatarsal jinx, has broken exactly the same bone as Beckham

" The bone is like the one that boxers break in the hand "
Michael Sullivan
Orthopaedic surgeon

The second metatarsal bone is one of five long tubular bones found in the instep.

The bone is in a fleshy, relatively protected part of the foot, and is not often broken.

Professor Tom Reilly, of the Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences at John Moores University, said: "The first metatarsal would probably be more difficult to heal because players do most of their kicking with that one.

"The second metatarsal would be bad news for a runner and it is involved in weight bearing."

He said the break would normally take around six weeks to heal.

The injury has been compared to the type of accidents boxers endure.

Orthopaedic surgeon Michael Sullivan said: "It's like the one that boxers break in the hand, which is the metacarpal.

"Boxers break them when they hit people and footballers break the metatarsal when they kick something."

In Murphy's case, the injury actually occured when he fell awkwardly.

But he must have felt like kicking himself.

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