Woodgate suffers broken jaw in attack


SOCCER/News: Leeds United defender Jonathan Woodgate was recovering from surgery on a broken jaw yesterday after being attacked on Tuesday night.

The 22-year-old will not play for the remainder of the season, the club confirmed.

He is believed to have been attacked outside a nightclub in Middlesbrough after becoming separated from friends.

According to reports, Woodgate had been drinking with two friends since 5 p.m.. He was first seen in the Brunton Arms in Nunthorpe, the Middlesbrough suburb where he grew up.

He was later spotted in various bars in the centre of Middlesbrough, where the attack is believed to have taken place.

Woodgate had been given Tuesday off, along with the rest of the Leeds United first-team players.

Woodgate had been due to appear before magistrates in north Yorkshire yesterday to face a speeding charge, his fourth driving offence in four months.

Magistrates banned him from driving for six months and fined him £600 in his absence. He was undergoing surgery at the time.

The Leeds United chairman, Peter Ridsdale, said in a statement: "Leeds United can confirm Jonathan Woodgate has undergone an operation after sustaining a broken jaw in an attack on Tuesday night.

"He will not be available for the remainder of the season. Jonathan Woodgate and his family do not wish to make any comment." Woodgate was recovering at his parents' home in Middlesbrough last night.

A spokesman for Cleveland police said that they had not received any reports of an attack on Woodgate.

The incident comes just four months after he was sentenced to 100 hours community service at Hull crown court after an attack on an Asian student, Sarfraz Najeib, in January 2000 outside a Leeds nightclub.

Woodgate's future at Leeds United is now in serious doubt because he had already been warned about his behaviour following his conviction at Hull.

He is currently negotiating a new five-year contract with the club, which stipulates that he must move away from his native Middlesbrough and behave more responsibly in the future.

The new contract also allows the club to sack Woodgate without compensation if he is found guilty of any misconduct charges.

It was only 17 days ago that England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson said he had ruled Woodgate out of his World Cup plans to protect the image of English football.

Eriksson had said: "I know Jonathan Woodgate did something, he has been judged, punished and served that punishment. Normally that would be it. But in England, there are rules for the fans to try to make the image of English football much better, especially abroad."

The England coach added: "He's an extremely good football player and if he carries on playing like this, he will be picked after the World Cup."

As Woodgate's career was hitting another brick wall yesterday, Chelsea's John Terry and Jody Morris, together with Ireland's Des Byrne of Wimbledon, were being remanded on bail by a London court until June 7th.

Terry (22) will be expected to enter his plea to a charge of affray on that date, a week after the World Cup finals begin. Morris (23) and Byrne (21) are also due to appear.

All three have been charged in connection with an attack on a London nightclub doorman in January, where the three had been celebrating the birth of Morris's baby girl.

The trio, who have been on conditional bail since March, heard yesterday that the charges against them will soon be revised. They will all face one of affray, but, in addition, Terry will face a more serious count of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

Fulham, meanwhile, who face Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final on Sunday, have learned that their England under-21 midfielder Sean Davis has been charged with drink-driving.

His case will be heard on April 23rd.