Football: EPL managers fear for players' safety on Hong Kong's 'killer pitch'

HONG KONG (AFP) - Key Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen could miss the start of the Premier League season after suffering an injury on what Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio called a "killer pitch" in Hong Kong.

Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas also made no secret of his disdain for the surface at the Hong Kong Stadium, where his side, Sunderland, Manchester City and local team South China play on Saturday in the pre-season Barclays Asia Trophy.

The pitch at the 40,000-capacity stadium was rendered unplayable in places on Wednesday after being battered by heavy rain. More rain has pounded Hong Kong since and wet weather has again been forecast for Saturday.

Asked if he would prefer not to play the friendly against South China, Villas-Boas said: "If I can be sincere I would prefer not to play but this is the reality that we have to face.

"We are professional. Unfortunately conditions haven't helped us but it is our responsibility that if the authorities decide to go ahead we will play the game and we will continue our preparation."

Di Canio, whose side play Manchester City on Saturday in the final of the Hong Kong exhibition tournament, was also scathing about the dire state of the pitch.

"For tomorrow's game we hope the rain can stop and maybe we can have a dry pitch, otherwise it will be difficult," he said. "Of course I am concerned about the safety of the players. This is a killer pitch with this weather. It is dangerous."

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