Football: Emerson staying at Boro

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The Independent Online
The long-running saga of Emerson's future at Middlesbrough took a new turn yesterday when Bryan Robson, his manager, said there was no truth in a report that his Brazilian midfielder had signed for Fiorentina.

Robson said the report was "absolute rubbish." Emerson has been fined and dropped by the First Division leaders after returning late from a Christmas holiday in Brazil while he was serving a suspension.

Middlesbrough face a tough test of their promotion credentials today when they travel to Charlton, who have climbed to fourth in the table. Clayton Blackmore, who missed the first half of the season with a stress fracture, is pushing for a place in Middlesbrough's line-up. Gianluca Festa is suspended, Curtis Fleming is out after having an appendicitis operation and Anthony Ormerod returns after recovering from groin trouble.

Charlton must decide whether to play Bradley Allen or Mark Bright following Carl Leaburn's move to Wimbledon. Matt Holmes has recovered from injury but lacks match fitness and will be a substitute.

Nottingham Forest, in second place, welcome back Pierre Van Hooijdonk, Steve Stone and Andy Johnson for the visit of Port Vale. Jon Hjelde is out with a hamstring strain and Colin Cooper reverts to centre-back. The Port Vale full-back Matt Carragher has been ruled out after suffering a recurrence of a stomach strain.

Frank Clark could reinstate the former Portsmouth player Kit Symons as captain for the trip to Fratton Park. Kevin Horlock and Gerard Wiekens have been injured while in charge. Richard Edghill could return at right- back after suspension. Adrian Whitbread and David Hillier are fit again for Portsmouth.

Sunderland will name an unchanged team for the ninth time in succession as they look to avenge their defeat on the opening day of the season at Bramall Lane. Sheffield United's Norwegian striker, Jan Age Fjortfoft, is battling to recover from tonsillitis, while defender David Holdsworth has a groin strain.

West Brom failed to step up the pressure on the First Division leaders when they drew 0-0 at Tranmere. They will feel aggrieved because Ian Hamilton was ruled offside when putting the ball in the Tranmere net in the first half, but television replays showed he was onside when Andy hunt passed to him.