Armstrong to have operation


TOTTENHAM Hotspur striker, Chris Armstrong, has been ruled out for up to six weeks and laces an operation because his damaged ankle is not responding to treatment.

Armstrong, Spurs' record signing at £4.5 million, has had trouble for some time with his ankle, which he badly aggravated in the goalless draw against Everton at White Hart Lane in August when he was carried off before halftime.

He has made several comeback attempts and remains Spurs' joint top scorer this season with six goals in 15 games, but lasted only the first half against Liverpool in his last appearance eight days ago and now the problem has been identified as tendonitis.

Spurs physio Tony Lanaghan said: "We've tried continuous treatment on Chris as he did net want to miss games, but now it is time for the injury to be dealt with in hospital."

It is a another blow for Spurs boss Gerry Francis, but last week's signing of £2.6 million Norwegian striker Steffen Iversen has enabled him to spare Armstrong to have surgery and proper rehabilitation.

"We already knew we would be without Chris for several weeks, but now it has been confirmed," said Francis. "It is ironic with us, we finally get a few players in and then a few go out again.

Francis is also resigned to being without England winger Darren Anderton for several more weeks, but Iversen, 20-year-old former Rosenborg front-man, made such an impressive debut in last Saturday's 2-1 win at Coventry that the Tottenham chief feels his side will be able to cope up front while Armstrong recovers.

Iversen looks certain to keep his place in attack alongside Teddy Sheringham for the trip to Leeds on Saturday, one of only three Premiership fixtures that day.

But the debut of Tottenham's even more recent capture, John Scales, remains a doubt.

Francis is not unduly worried that the £2.7 million former Liverpool defender would face an inevitably hostile reception from Leeds fans at Elland Road.

He turned down the Yorkshire club in an 11th-hour change of heart to join Spurs on Sunday.

But Francis said: "John has had a groin strain for a while, and it is not yet a formality he will play on Saturday at Leeds."

Blackburn have dismissed Italian newspaper reports that Sven Goran Eriksson had quit serie A side Sampdoria to become the new manager at the English Premiership club.

Rovers insist their search to fill the seat vacated by Ray Harford seven weeks ago remains ongoing" and that a deal had not been sealed with Sampdoria to allow Eriksson to take charge.

Caretaker-manager Tony Parkes said: "We seem to hear and read something different every day but we are carrying on as normal.

"The club has told me that I will be the first to know when anything is decided."

Meanwhile, Steve Gritt said he was relishing the challenge of taking on the toughest job in football when he became the new manager of troubled Brighton yesterday.

The Seagulls are 11 points adrift at the bottom of Division Three but that has not deterred Gritt.

But the former Charlton joint-manager said: "I wouldn't have taken the job on unless I was satisfied that the club has a future.

"In my talks I was given those assurances. I am ready for the challenge and cannot wait for my first game at home to Hull on Saturday."

Gritt's appointment came just hours after the troubled south-coast club had confirmed that they will be appealing against the two point penalty imposed by the Football Association on Monday for a pitch-invasion by fans during the game with Lincoln in October.

Chief executive David Bellotti insists that the peaceful protest by the fans was aimed at the directors. "We are appealing on the grounds that the players have been penalised," he said.

Bellotti also revealed that Gritt, Brighton's third boss in the last year, was selected from 50 applicants.