Newcastle sweat on Best’s fitness

NEWCASTLE United's medical staff will assess Leon Best this morning after the striker was sent home from international duty with the Republic of Ireland.

Best sustained groin and toe injuries in this month's 2-1 win over Everton, and is rated as a significant doubt for Saturday's top-of-the-table tussle with Manchester City.

The 25-year-old missed Ireland's 4-0 play-off win in Estonia on Friday night because his partner was giving birth to their child.

He flew to the Irish squad's training camp over the weekend in the hope of being passed fit for tomorrow's second leg in Dublin, in which Ireland's passage to next summer's European Championships in Poland and Ukraine will almost certainly be confirmed.

However, Ireland's medics do not feel he is ready to be involved tomorrow, so he was instructed to return to England to enable Newcastle's doctors to continue their treatment.

"We said thanks because he wishes that he could come with us," said Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni. "But I said to him now you are injured and I don't need you in this game. It is better you go back to your team to finish your therapy."

Best now has five days in which to recover sufficiently to be involved in Saturday's top-three encounter at the Etihad Stadium.

Newcastle will attempt to become the first side to defeat the current Premier League leaders when they travel to Manchester City at the weekend, and will be defending an unbeaten run of their own after winning seven and drawing four of their opening 11 league games.

They will start as outsiders against a City side that put six past Manchester United last month, but Dan Gosling is hoping Newcastle's excellent start has given Roberto Mancini's side something to ponder.

"Hopefully, we've given the likes of Man City and Man United something to think about," said the Magpies midfielder. "They're obviously top sides and they're battling it out at the top of the table for a reason.

"I'm sure they'll fancy themselves to beat us, but they'll have seen us getting results week after week and hopefully they'll be a little bit wary. They'll be confident, but you'd like to think they'll also be looking at us as a threat."

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