Football: Robson ready to complete Italian job

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The Independent Online
Bryan Robson's powers of persuasion are about to bring another foreign import to the Riverside, even though the deal looked dead on Thursday.

The Juventus striker Michele Padovano will sign for Middlesbrough this weekend - maybe even in time to play against Queen's Park Rangers this afternoon. Robson has agreed to pay Juventus pounds 1.6m for the Italian striker after several days of negotiations.

"I expect a positive decision from Padovano this weekend," Robson said. "I spent a long time in Italy this week trying to sort it out, and even missed my flight back. The situation with Padovano couldn't be worked out then, but we've agreed the fee and offered him favourable terms."

Padovano, 31, has not started a game for Juventus this season, and his first-team chances there are slim. Middlesbrough have reached the top six in the First Division, and are second highest scorers. Robson is expecting still more. "Padovano is a proven striker, just what we're looking for, and I expect him to score plenty of goals," he said.

The Middlesbrough full-back Curtis Fleming will miss the Republic of Ireland's World Cup play-off second week in Belgium next weekend after suffering a hamstring injury against Portsmouth this week.

Belgium are facing mounting injury problems as they prepare for the game in Brussels on 15 November. The defender Eric van Meir sustained a knee injury playing for Lierse against Monaco in Wednesday's European Champions' League match. The Club Bruges midfielder Lorenzo Staelens and the Anderlecht playmaker Enzo Scifo are also set to miss out with muscle strains. The Belgian coach, Georges Leekens, will announce his squad today.

Reading's Australian goalkeeper, Steve Mautone, will be out of action until Christmas after undergoing a cartilage operation on the knee he injured against Port Vale last weekend.

Newcastle are on the trail of one of the best young prospects in the Netherlands: Roda JC Kerkrade's Andre Ooijer. The Magpies' manager, Kenny Dalglish, and his assistant, Terry McDermott, watched the 23-year-old defensive midfielder play in his side's 4-0 European Cup-Winners' Cup victory over the Slovenian side, Primorje Ajdovscina, on Thursday.

PSV Eindhoven have bid pounds 2m for Ooijer, while Liverpool, Southampton and the German Bundesliga side Werder Bremen were also among the eight clubs who joined Dalglish in the stands at the Kaalheide stadium on Thursday. Ooijer started his career at Ajax, but never made the first-team at the Amsterdam club.