Premier League

Newcastle fans vent Kinnear fury

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Mon, 24 Jun 2013 23:17:00

Italy striker Mario Balotelli is out of the Confederations Cup because of a thigh injury and will return home to Milan for treatment.

The 22-year-old AC Milan forward has been ruled out of not only the semi-final against Spain on Thursday, but now also Sunday's final or third-place play-off.

Enrico Castellacci, the head of Italy's medical staff, said on "I met with Balotelli this morning. The medical condition is not satisfactory, he cannot recover even for the finals on Sunday.

"To avoid unnecessary risks we decided, in agreement with (coach Cesare) Prandelli and after talking to the medical staff of AC Milan, to send the player back to Milan."

Balotelli picked up his injury in Saturday's 4-2 defeat by hosts Brazil.

Castellacci said midfielder Andrea Pirlo, who missed the Brazil game with a leg injury, had a chance to be fit for the Spain match.

He said: "He is continuing to work hard and we are cautiously optimistic. But we have to evaluate his case day by day and if he does play against Spain it will be decided only at the last moment."

Riccardo Montolivo sat out training on Sunday after picking up a head injury in the previous night's game, but Castellacci said he was "fine and available".

The 66-year-old was unable to attend the meeting of NUFC Fans United, to which he had been invited at short notice, as he got together with chief scout Graham Carr to discuss the club's summer transfer business.

It was left to close friend and former Newcastle schoolboy player Eddie McIntyre to fight his corner in front of a rebellious audience at Newcastle Labour Club this evening.

McIntyre, who was repeatedly heckled, said: "You are asking why Joe Kinnear didn't come here. He was going to come.

"Since Joe was appointed, he has never had a day off. He was going to come up on Sunday night and going to come here.

"I spoke to Joe Kinnear this morning. He was waiting to be picked up by Graham Carr, who lives in Northampton. He was picking Joe up in Mill Hill and they were having a business lunch, which will go on tomorrow.

"That's the reason Joe hasn't been able to come."

Around 230 fans, comprising a coalition of different supporters' groups, packed into the concert room at the club, which lies in the shadow of St James' Park, less than a week after the club confirmed that Kinnear had been handed the role of director of football.

McIntyre tried manfully to defend Kinnear, and admitted he regretted his comments in an ill-advised and now infamous radio interview last week.

"He regrets, naturally, what has happened over the last week. But Joe Kinnear will be here some time in the future," he said.

McIntyre was unable to win over a largely hostile crowd, but was applauded for his courage in turning up as he sat down.

The Irishman may not have been in attendance, but Wendy Taylor, head of media, and supporters liaison manager Lee Marshall, who have been attending the organisation's meetings for the last year, were.

Neither spoke, but they were there to report back what was said to the club's Board.

More than 500 questions were submitted in advance by fans via twitter, Facebook and e-mail, many of them surrounding Kinnear's controversial return to St James' Park.

Kinnear, however, was not the only target as supporters also vented their fury on club owner Mike Ashley, whose decision it was to install him above manager Alan Pardew and Carr.

Indeed, one of the groups represented, the Mike Ashley Out Campaign, proposed a motion calling on the sportswear tycoon to sell the club, something he has previously tried and failed to do twice during the six years he has owned it.

The motion, which was put to a show of hands, was carried by a sizeable, if not unanimous, margin.

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