NICKY Spooner has won his fight for compensation against Burnley Football Club and ex-Claret John Gayle -- almost five and a half years after a horror tackle nearly ended his career.

The 28-year-old former Bolton defender has agreed a "substantial" damages settlement after Gayle's challenge during a controversial Burnley-Bolton derby at Turf Moor in October 1994 left him with a double fracture of the leg.

But despite the fact the player is believed to have received a six-figure pay-out, it will not hit the Clarets directly in the pocket as the club's insurers will pick up the tab.

"You might say it's against Burnley Football Club because John Gayle was employed by Burnley Football Club at the time," said Burnley director, Clive Holt.

"But it's really an insurance company issue which does not affect the football club directly whatsoever.

"We might see a change in our premium next year as a result but the amount won't be significant."

Spooner was destined for a promising career before he was stretchered off following the challenge.

He did recover from the injury but played only reserve team football with Wanderers before he left the club 14 months ago to pursue his career in America with Charleston Battery. The damages claim was due in court yesterday when a host of football stars - including ex-Burnley pair Jimmy Mullen and Tony Philliskirk, and former-Bolton quintet Bruce Rioch, Colin Todd, John McGinlay, Scott Green, Mark Patterson - were all due to give evidence.

But Spooner's legal team managed to reach an out-of-court settlement.

Daniel Izza, of Manchester law firm Pannone and Partners, said: "Nicky is obviously very pleased and relieved it's over with and he is now hoping to rebuild his career.

"It's been a long, hard slog but he's pleased with the result and I'm personally delighted because he's missed out on an awful lot.

"I always believed he was a highly promising player and, when his greatest opportunity was there for the taking, it was taken from him by a bad challenge."

Meanwhile, Burnley striker Andy Cooke is expected to win his fitness battle in time for Saturday's clash with Oxford United at the Manor Ground. Cooke has been missing for the last two weeks with a thigh strain but manager Stan Ternent revealed he was back in training today.

"Andy will continue to have treatment this week on the injury but he should be fit for Saturday," said the Clarets chief.

Teenage defenders Stephen Rose and John Boardman -- who are on trial from Manchester United and Liverpool respectively -- will both get another chance to impress in the reserves at Tranmere tonight.

The reserve squad is: Mawson, Rose, Devenney, Scott, Williamson, Heywood, Boardman, Bowden, Kelly, Kevan, Shandran, Maylett, Leeson, Davis, Waine, Paxton.

Rossendale Clarets have room on their coach for Burnley's clash at Oxford United this weekend.

Anyone requiring further information should contact Bev on 01706 224924.

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