Football: Wenger happy with his lot

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The Independent Online
THE Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, has ruled out a big-money move into the transfer market before deadline day - unless Ian Wright's recovery from injury is delayed.

Wenger is clearly a big admirer of Southampton's Kevin Davies and is certainly keen to bring in at least one young prospect at some stage if the price and wages fit into Arsenal's tight financial structure. But he is also increasingly impressed by the progress of his 18-year-old striker Nicolas Anelka and feels he already has enough cover in his squad to compete for the title - barring further long-term injuries.

However, Wenger knows if Wright does not return from his current injury problems on schedule in around three weeks' time he could face problems, as Anelka is set to miss vital matches when involved with the France Under- 18 side at the end of March.

Arsenal have recently been linked with a move for the Coventry striker Dion Dublin, who could be available for a fee of pounds 5m as long as his large wage demands were met. But Wenger said: "I like Dublin as a player but we haven't made an inquiry. There's a limit on wages at Arsenal."

The Leicester City manager, Martin O'Neill, has leapt to the defence of the referee Dermot Gallagher over his suspension by the Football Association and has claimed he was the victim of a "knee-jerk" reaction.

Gallagher was due to take charge of City's Premiership fixture at Blackburn today but his FA ban - over his handling of the recent Chelsea v Arsenal game - means he has been replaced by Neale Barry.

O'Neill said: "There have been other occasions this season when referees have been seen to miss penalties or other vital decisions - but they have not been sanctioned like Mr Gallagher. Other referees must be counting themselves fortunate not to have been picked out. It looks like [it might be] a result of all the things that have been said recently about refereeing decisions."

The Blackburn striker Kevin Gallacher has revealed that he has approached the Football Association over his sending-off following an incident with the West Ham midfielder Eyal Berkovitch in an FA Cup tie on 14 February. Along with Blackburn's appeal, the Scottish striker, who starts a three- match suspension today, wrote a letter to the FA in a vain attempt to clear his name.

"I didn't elbow Berkovitch and believe the referee should have been allowed to see the video. I have been punished for something I haven't done," Gallacher said.

The West Bromwich defender Shane Nicholson has been charged by the Football Association for refusing to take a training-ground drugs test this week. The player has already been suspended and fined two weeks' wages by his club. He failed another drugs test earlier this season, but escaped punishment after claiming a drink had been spiked.

The veteran Everton goalkeeper Neville Southall has joined Stoke City on a month's loan and is expected to make his debut in the Potteries derby against Port Vale tomorrow. However, Stoke have lost the services of the Scotland full-back Tosh McKinlay, who has been recalled by Celtic.

Liverpool's Czech midfielder Patrik Berger has expressed an interest in a move to the Portuguese club Benfica, whose coach is Graeme Souness.

Brazil are the latest country to state an interest in hosting the 2006 World Cup finals - joining England, Germany and South Africa as potential hosts.

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