Football: Full Speed ahead for Newcastle

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The Independent Online
As Everton languish at the foot of the Premiership, their captain, Gary Speed may be about to move to Newcastle United. Alan Nixon reports.

Kenny Dalglish is making a pounds 5m offer for the Everton captain, Gary Speed. The Newcastle United manager is ready to take on Ron Atkinson in the race for the unsettled Welsh international midfielder.

Speed has had talks with his manager, Howard Kendall, who is naturally not keen on losing him, and there will be no sale before what is likely to be a stormy AGM on Monday, but the deal could happen soon afterwards.

Dalglish, who is also keen on Norwich's injured Keith O'Neill, is short of left-sided players, and the Welsh captain has kept on top of his game this season despite Everton's problems.

Sheffield Wednesday are also keen on Speed, but Atkinson is not in a position to match Newcastle. He could offer players in exchange, however.

Atkinson yesterday made his first signing since returning as manager of Wednesday three weeks ago, buying the Swedish international Niclas Alexandersson for pounds 750,000 from IFK Gothenburg.

Aston Villa's manager, Brian Little, was known to be chasing the 25-year- old, along with the Leeds United manager, George Graham. Alexandersson, however, will have to wait a week to make his debut as the club have not received international clearance in time for him to play against Barnsley on Monday.

The 26-year-old Alexandersson, who has signed a three-and-a-half year deal and will watch his new club against Barnsley, will be expected to provide goals from midfield, having scored seven in 25 games for Gothenburg and three for Sweden.

Chelsea have signed a pounds 75m deal with a finance house which will enable them to buy Stamford Bridge from the estate of the late Matthew Harding. The deal, based on a 10-year investment bond from SBC Warburg Dillon Read, will also mean the club can clear their debts and complete the redevelopment of the stadium.

The Aston Villa goalkeeper, Mark Bosnich, has received a Uefa Cup reprieve from the Australia coach, Terry Venables. He was due to fly out on Monday with the other English-based players in Venables' squad to play in the Confederations Cup in Saudi Arabia, but Venables has given Bosnich, who missed three Villa games while on World Cup play-off duty, an extra 48 hours so he can play against Steaua Bucharest on Tuesday.

The Coventry chairman, Bryan Richardson, was making another attempt yesterday to lure the Liverpool midfielder, Michael Thomas, to Highfield Road. Thomas turned down Coventry's first approach, as he wants to return to London.

Manchester United's captain, Roy Keane, injured against Leeds in September, may play before the end of the season. Keane's cruciate ligament operation is now adjudged successful, and the injury may mend by May.

The former England, Liverpool and Tottenham striker, Paul Walsh, has retired because of a knee injury. Walsh, 35, suffered ligament damage playing for Portsmouth last year.

In an 18-year career he won a League Championship and FA Cup winner's medal, and played five times for England. He has been working as a players' agent since surgery failed to repair the knee and hopes to move into management.

Charlton Athletic's Jamie Stuart has tested positive for cocaine and marijuana. He is the fifth Charlton player to test positive for drugs.

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