THERE are fears Jonathan Woodgate is facing up to another five months on the sidelines, as employers Real Madrid point the finger of blame towards former club Newcastle United.

Woodgate has been flown to the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, in Ohio, after tearing the same thigh muscle that has kept him out of action since the Magpies' 2-1 win over Chelsea in April.

The 24-year-old moved to the Bernabeu in a £13.4m deal in August, despite his lack of fitness and a troublesome thigh problem, and broke down in training on Thursday.

Woodgate somehow managed to pass a three-hour medical and put pen to paper on a lucrative contract with the Spanish giants, although club doctors are now claiming they had warned Real about the defender's injury.

Despite the fact Real gave the multi-million pound deal the go-ahead, after stringent tests, the officials at the La Liga club are suggesting Newcastle had not given the centre-back the necessary treatment beforehand.

Former Newcastle boss Sir Bobby Robson had actually sent Woodgate to Germany to see top specialist Hans Muller Wohlfahrt just hours before the player arrived in Madrid to conclude the switch.

But Real's Dr Alfonso del Corral said last night: "It's the same injury that he had when he arrived here and has suffered for the last five months.

"While he was in England the injury was not treated properly. When he got here we had to start from scratch. The lad has been honest with us and admitted he has had three or four recurrences of the injury, including one after he went to see a specialist in Germany."

The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, where Real have sent Woodgate to receive the 'best' treatment, specialises in sporting injuries.

This set-back is a massive blow to both the club and to the Middlesbrough-born England defender who was expected to play in Tuesday's friendly with Alcorcon.

The Spanish press have questioned the wisdom behind signing a player with such a poor injury record - with sport newspaper Diaro AS leading with the headline "20m euros in surgery".

And Del Corral insists Real were made aware of the problems they could encounter if they signed Woodgate, who missed Euro 2004.

"The medical staff always work honestly," he said. "We told the club that the player was arriving with a risk in the front of his thigh muscle.

"I give the technical information and transmit the real physical state of the player because that is my professional obligation. I cannot say no to the club signing a player and I would never send a report saying 'this lad won't play again'." Del Corral did, however, praise Woodgate's desire to regain full fitness and determination to steer his career back on track.

"He has worked splendidly over the last two months and we are going to do all we can do for the muscle to help it to regenerate and to scar over well," said Del Corral.

"We have to be cautious, because it all depends on whether or not he has an operation. We have a diagnosis and two or three alternatives to find a solution.''

Meanwhile, Le Havre are claiming Newcastle do have to pay a transfer fee if they want to keep French starlet Charles N'Zogbia.

Le Havre were angered when a player on an education contract, not professional, was given the green light from FIFA to move.

However, the French club took the issue to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in a bid to receive a financial settlement from Newcastle. Newcastle are awaiting confirmation and are unwilling to comment until that time. N'Zogbia has made a substitute appearance under Graeme Souness.