A sports science researcher at the University of Teesside, Iain Spears, hopes he can help prevent - or at least reduce the incidence of - that most fashionable of football injuries, the fractured metatarsal. The bone entered the national consciousness when David Beckham was hurt shortly before the 2002 World Cup and again when Wayne Rooney was similarly afflicted in 2006. As England resumes its bid to qualify in the World Cup no one wants the dreaded metatarsal curse to recur. Dr Spears' suspicions focus on professional players' preference for donning a new pair of boots for every match. His simulations of the impact of different types of boot reveal that boots that are too tight or whose soles are insufficiently stiff may make players more vulnerable. Dr Spears is currently applying for research funding for the project.