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Griffin hit by flu bug.

Byline: By Alan Oliver

Full-back Andy Griffin has been forced to pull out of Newcastle United's trip to Switzerland, leaving Sir Bobby Robson's side looking rather depleted for their UEFA Cup second round clash with FC Basel.

Griffin withdrew today after going down with the flu bug, just hours after it was decided that Kieron Dyer would not be fit to play tomorrow night.

But an upbeat Robson said today: "We might be a few short but we still have plenty of warriors to do the business for us."

Robson travelled without Dyer, Griffin and fellow injury victims Craig Bellamy and Jonathan Woodgate, as well as the suspended Lee Bowyer.

There are also doubts about whether Dyer will have recovered in time to face a buoyant Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon, while Woodgate's comeback has been delayed slightly.

Robson added: "Woodgate wanted to play in our reserves tomorrow but we said no, and he's not going to be fit for Sunday's game against Chelsea.

"But he will get back into the swing of things on Monday and we have a fortnight after that before we play our next game.

"And the same applies to Dyer - if he is not fit then we will be looking to the Manchester City game at St James' Park on November 22.

"It's not what we wanted but we will have to hide our disappointment.

"This is a very important game for us. It's going to be a difficult match, especially as they have nine players over 6ft 2in.

"I've said to the players it will be a difficult game, but in the likes of Alan Shearer, Andy O'Brien, Gary Speed, Titus Bramble and Aaron Hughes, we have plenty warriors of our own.

"And if we do beat Basel and go through to the third round we will have both Craig Bellamy and Lee Bowyer back in our side.

"But also we are going to Basel boosted by what happened in Belgrade last night in the Champions League. For Real Madrid couldn't do what we did earlier this season and beat Partizan."

Meanwhile, Portuguese ace Hugo Viana was on the plane which left Newcastle airport at 10am despite reports over the weekend that he was unsettled at St James's Park.

Robson said: "Hugo has spoken to me and he is very distraught, because he has never spoken to anyone about this and there is absolutely no truth in reports that he wants to leave.

"Yes, he is unhappy because he wants to play and he is concerned that by not playing it will affect his international prospects in the summer when the European Championships are being held in his own country.

"I bought him as a long-term replacement for Gary Speed and I've got to say we are delighted with him.

"He's just got to grit his teeth and soldier on because I've told him he could be here for the next 10 years."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Nov 5, 2003
Words:491
Previous Article:It'll be Hott for the Toon in Basel.
Next Article:A turn for the worse.


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