Arsenal yesterday had to admit that their plan to bring Paul Ince back from Italy had several flaws - namely that Internazionale did not want to sell, the player did not want to leave and Manchester United have first refusal on any transfer.
Surprisingly, Bruce Rioch, the Arsenal manager, had not been involved in the pounds 6.5m move for Ince and it was the managing director, Ken Friar, who confirmed that Inter were "not prepared to transfer the player at this time".
Ince was quoted in Italian newspapers as saying that he was not going anywhere. "After just three months, it would be a failure, an embarrassment for me," he said. The final world came from Alex Ferguson at Manchester United. "Until Inter talk to us, nothing else can happen," he said.
Juninho has put country before club by insisting on playing for Brazil in a friendly against Argentina next Wednesday - the same night that Middlesbrough entertain Crystal Palace in a Coca-Cola Cup replay. The pounds 4.75m midfielder will fly back to South America after his Premier League debut against Leeds on Saturday.
"Juninho is committed to the international match and we must respect that," Bryan Robson, the Middlesbrough manager, said. "All Brazilian players in Europe are going back for the game. We will adapt a common sense policy over future internationals."
One man free to watch Juninho in Buenos Aires is Ossie Ardiles, who was sacked yesterday by the Mexican side, Guadalajara, after just 10 matches - a year to the day after being dismissed by Tottenham.
Roy Keane's four-match suspension will be used to sort out his suspected hernia problem. If it is a hernia, surgery after Manchester United's visit to Arsenal on Saturday - Keane's last match before starting his suspension - could see him back in action on Boxing Day against Newcastle at Old Trafford. United, however, are aware that the Republic of Ireland have an important European Championship qualifier in Portugal on 15 November, and may delay Keane's treatment.
Burnley's home FA Cup first round tie with Walsall has been brought forward a day to 10 November owing to the selection of the Walsall goalkeeper Trevor Wood for the Northern Ireland squad,who play Austria in their crucial European Championship Group Six qualifier in Belfast on 15 November.
NORTHERN IRELAND SQUAD (European Championship Group Six qualifier v Austria, Belfast, 15 November): Fettis (Hull), Wood (Walsall); McGibbon (Man Utd), Hunter (Wrexham), Hill (Leicester), McDonald (QPR), Hughes (West Ham), Rowland (West Ham), Dowie (West Ham), Gillespie (Newcastle), Worthington (Leeds), Lomas (Man City), Lennon (Crewe), Gray (Sunderland), Quinn (Reading), McMahon (Tottenham), O'Neill (Hibernian).
n Daniel Amokachi, the Nigerian international striker, has passed a fitness test on his right knee and is available for Everton's European Cup-Winners' Cup second round second leg away to Feyenoord tomorrow.Reuse content