Branco ready to join Juninho at Boro

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The Independent Online
Football

GUY HODGSON

Middlesbrough, who have plummeted faster than the temperature since autumn, had the concern generated by six successive League defeats lifted a little yesterday when the Brazilian defender, Branco, arrived in England intent on joining them.

The 31-year-old World Cup full-back met club officials last night and will resume talks this morning, having been sold on Teesside because of compatriot Juninho's reception. "He is very happy here," he said. "We've played together before in the national squad and we are good friends - that is the main reason why I settled on Middlesborough.

"I had a few offers from other English clubs and also from teams in Japan, America and Spain. But I decided I wanted to play with Juninho." Branco, whose move to Middlesbrough could be blocked by his high wage demands, has bought out his contract with a Brazilian club, Internacional, and is a free agent.

Juninho will be available for tomorrow's FA Cup fourth-round home tie against Wimbledon and Saturday's Premiership visit of Newcastle. He was due to leave for a training camp in preparation for an international tournament in Argentina later this month, but has delayed his departure.

Tomas Brolin had his ego massaged a little yesterday as his Leeds manager, Howard Wilkinson, yesterday denied reports of a fall-out with his pounds 4.5m record signing. "All talk of a rift, bust up or fall out is absolute rubbish," he said.

"He has not settled into Premiership football as well as everyone would have liked. He has not produced the sort of form of which we all know he is capable." Brolin was dropped for Saturday's 3-0 defeat at Aston Villa.

Manchester United have confirmed an interest in South Africa's Mark Fish. The 20-year-old centre-back was watched by an Old Trafford director, Sir Bobby Charlton, as he helped his country win the African Nations' Cup on Sunday.

Roger Stanislaus will also be anxiously waiting to see what develops today as Leyton Orient decide what they intend to do with their 27-year- old left-back after his suspension for a year for taking cocaine.

He meets the club's board, which may decide to sack him. "He is a nice guy," the chairman, Barry Hearn, said, "but he has brought this on himself and has to pay the price. The good name of Orient Club must take priority."

Stanislaus, who denied any attempt at "performance enhancement" when he appeared before the disciplinary tribunal, can be dismissed under regulation 63, section four, covering "serious or persistent misconduct".

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