Football: Ebullient Ball bounces back

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The Independent Online
Alan Ball is confident he can repeat his Southampton rescue act with Portsmouth.

Ball, who begins his second spell in charge of the First Division's bottom club against Sheffield United at Fratton Park today, saved Saints from relegation and he is adamant he can do the same for Pompey.

"When I took over at Southampton [in 1994] we only had 19 points, yet we managed to turn things around there and I see no reason why we can't do it here," Ball said. "We've got 19 games to do it and I'm confident we've got it in us."

Manchester City's pounds 3.5m record signing, Lee Bradbury, could start his first game in nearly four months at Tranmere after recovering from a broken bone in his back. Frank Clark, the City manager, said: "He's been getting fitter and stronger by the day and he could be in the starting line-up."

Tranmere will create a piece of history if the match finishes goalless. Rovers have drawn their last four League games 0-0 and a fifth blank would set a new Football League record.

Sunderland will be without Darren Holloway and Alex Rae for their match against Port Vale at the Stadium of Light, but their captain, Kevin Ball, may make his first appearance since October after recovering from an ankle infection.