Football: City home in on 21st century stadium

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The Independent Online
Manchester City have moved a step closer to leaving Maine Road and setting up home at the yet to be built Commonwealth Games stadium. The club had "positive" talks with City Council officials at a board meeting earlier this week.

City have been considering moving from Maine Road, their home for over 70 years, and becoming tenants at the new Eastlands site, three miles from their present Moss Side home. The new stadium will be built for the 2002 Commonwealth Games with the aid of lottery money and private business help.

City, who entertain Sunderland today, may be without Georgi Kinkladze, who has a dental abscess, while Sunderland - for whom striker Kevin Phillips was named Nationwide player of the month yesterday - could field an unchanged side for the 10th successive match, although Alan Johnston faces a late test on a hip injury.

An away victory would allow fourth-placed Sunderland to keep up the pressure on Nottingham Forest at the top of the table. Forest are at home to Norwich, for whom the rising talent Craig Bellamy begins a two-match suspension, but Norwich hope to welcome back Darren Eadie from suspension.

A torn hamstring for Forest's Steve Stone means Frenchman Thierry Bonalair will start on the right wing. Midfielder Stephen Howe will certainly not be playing, having joined Swindon Town for pounds 30,000 yesterday. The 24-year- old had struggled to make an impact at the City Ground since Dave Bassett took charge.

Second-placed Middlesbrough could recall their captain, Nigel Pearson, midfielder Craig Hignett and Danish striker Mikkel Beck for the visit to Ipswich. There will be a more experienced line-up than the one who beat Queen's Park Rangers in the FA Cup in midweek.

Ipswich defender Jason Cundy is doubtful with a calf strain, so the 20- year-old Wayne Brown may make his debut, unless Matt Holland moves into defence. Defender Mark Venus and England under-21 midfielder Keiron Dyer miss out, while Gus Uhlenbeek could make his first League start of the season.

Third-placed Charlton, who travel to Oxford, keep the team that knocked Middlesbrough off the top of the table last week, while the Oxford captain, Mike Ford, is one of four players facing late fitness tests. United's manager, Malcolm Crosby has drawn a blank in his search, for reinforcements in attack.

Alan Buckley, the Grimsby manager, has bought midfielder David Smith from his former club, West Bromwich Albion, in a pounds 200,000 deal. The 29- year-old former Coventry player goes straight into the Mariners squad to face Brentford at Blundell Park this afternoon.