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Hip surgery sidelines Keane

Manchester United FC captain Roy Keane could miss the UEFA Champions League first group stage.

Disciplinary charges
Keane could miss the whole first group stage of this season's UEFA Champions League and his lay-off is likely to coincide with a domestic ban following his sending-off last weekend against Sunderland AFC. The English Football Association will decide this week whether he should face disciplinary charges over his controversial autobiography.

'Troubling him for some time'
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said this evening Keane might only be absent "for about six weeks", having initially suggested he would be out for three months. Speaking on the club's offical website earlier today, he said: "It's something that has been troubling him for quite some time and we've decided that now is the time for it to be done.

December return
"We hope we'll have him back by December for the main part of the season. By then, hopefully, we'll have qualified for the second phase of the Champions League. Roy has been getting by, but getting by very impressively."

'Ideal' timing
The website said the timing of Keane's operation was "ideal" as he could be hit by a possible seven-match ban. Keane has been carrying the injury since before the summer and Ferguson had wanted his captain to miss the FIFA World Cup finals to have surgery. In any case Keane returned home from a pre-tournament training camp after a row with Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy.