Blues hit by Finidi blow

FINIDI George is likely to be out of action until Christmas after suffering a depressed fracture to his cheekbone during Town's 1-1 Premiership draw at Fulham yesterday.

FINIDI George is likely to be out of action until Christmas after suffering a depressed fracture to his cheekbone during Town's 1-1 Premiership draw at Fulham yesterday.

The Nigerian striker was bravely clearing a John Collins' corner when he was accidentally struck in the face by the head of Fulham's French centre-half, Alain Goma.

George was last night taken to a London hospital for treatment but it is believed he could be out for up to three months. Town boss George Burley said: "It looks as if Finidi has a depressed fracture of the cheekbone. That is going to be a big loss for us and it looks as if he is going to be out for a couple of months.

"He was very brave with the header out and it was an accidental challenge which caught him. It is certainly a big disappointment for us."

George was hit in the ninth minute and lay dazed for almost four minutes before he was helped off.

Ipswich skipper Matt Holland said: "He was very groggy and it looked a nasty injury. With a fractured cheekbone we know he will be out for quite a while. We are going to miss him as he gives us an extra dimension."

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Ipswich went behind through a Barry Hayles goal but birthday-boy Jermaine Wright snatched a second-half equaliser.

Fulham were reduced to 10 men when Luis Boa Morte was sent off for two yellow cards and the former Southampton and Arsenal striker also missed a penalty.

There was a Premiership debut for Sixto Peralta, the on-loan Argentinian midfielder from Inter Milan.

Peralta said: "It has been an incredible week for me after making my home debut against Helsingborg on Thursday, I have now achieved my dream of playing in the Premiership. It was everything that I thought it would be; it was very quick but I thought I coped quite well and I really enjoyed myself."

Burley was clearly impressed with the young midfielder. He said: "Fulham are a very good passing team and try to play through the midfield, so we have to be solid there and I wanted to have a look at Sixto. I thought he played very well."

There were two surprising omissions as Marcus Stewart was left on the bench and Mark Venus did not make the squad.

Burley explained: "It was a tactical decision with both Hermann Hreidarsson in central defence alongside John McGreal for their pace.

"There is no doubt Fulham have some of the quickest strikers in the league and I thought both centre halves did very well. Part of my job is to make difficult decisions. It is about being brave, it wasn't because of the way Marcus Stewart has been playing, it was a tactical thing.

"I wanted to play one striker up front and Alun Armstrong has that height and strength up front on his own. Having said that, I always knew I was going to play Marcus Stewart at some point."

Fulham manager Jean Tigana and some of his players were furious with some of referee Mike Riley's decisions and confronted him at the final whistle.

Ipswich now turn their attentions to Wednesday night's visit to Southampton, who last night axed manager Stuart Gray following Saturday's 2-0 defeat at West Ham. Former Coventry manager Gordon Strachan is expected to take over.

It will be the second successive season that Town have travelled to play the Saints straight after they have parted company with their manager. Last season Town won 3-0 at The Dell just days after Glenn Hoddle quit and Gray had been installed as caretaker boss.

Town's UEFA Cup second leg match against Helsingborg is to be screened live on BBC 2 a week on Thursday.