Sneijder drops hint to Ferguson to make official move for him


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Wesley Sneijder has lost his chance to play at Wembley tonight, but he has announced himself as eager to play permanently in England with a possible move to Manchester United.

The Internazionale playmaker, a long-standing transfer target of Sir Alex Ferguson, replied when asked if he would be keen to move to United: "Yes, but Manchester United haven't made an official approach yet. There have been contacts, but then there are always contacts. I think Inter have been very clear: if a good offer comes in, they have to let me go." Sneijder's Dutch team-mate Rafael van der Vaart earlier said of him: "Of course he would like to play in England, it's the biggest league in the world."

Van der Vaart's Spurs team-mate Gareth Bale should continue his return from injury in Wales' home friendly with Australia tonight. The 22-year-old winger has impressed in pre-season for Spurs, but likely opponent Luke Wilkshire insisted that he was not intimidated by the prospect of facing the PFA Player of the Year.

Wilkshire, who plays for Dynamo Moscow, said: "You don't go losing sleep over who you are coming up against."

Bale had an exceptional season last year but it was ended early when a poor tackle from Blackpool's Charlie Adam ruptured his ankle ligaments on 7 May. But Bale has enjoyed a confident return in pre-season. In friendlies against Orlando Pirates, Brighton & Hove Albion and Athletic Bilbao, Bale has set up three goals.

The only home nation playing competitive football this evening is Northern Ireland, who host the Faroe Islands at Windsor Park. If Nigel Worthington's side win, they will move ahead of Serbia into third place in Group C. There will be no complacency in Belfast, though, after Northern Ireland's 1-1 draw in the Faroe Islands last October.

Gareth McAuley insisted that the players hoped to make up for that disappointment tonight. "The pressure is on to perform," he said.

With Warren Feeney, Kyle Lafferty and Chris Brunt all absent, attacking responsibility will rest upon veteran goalscorer David Healy.

The Republic of Ireland will be without one of their leading strikers, as Kevin Doyle has returned to Wolverhampton Wanderers ahead of tonight's game with Croatia. Giovanni Trapattoni said yesterday that Doyle was "not 100 per cent fit" and has returned to Molineux.

Scotland are hosting Denmark this evening, with Craig Levein hoping for useful preparation ahead of their next qualifiers. "This game has been picked to give us an equal test to what the Czech Republic will give us," he said.