Coventry sign Jess for pounds 2m

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The Independent Online
NICK DUXBURY

Eoin Jess yesterday completed his switch to the Premiership when he joined Coventry City for pounds 2m from Aberdeen.

Ron Atkinson and his assistant, the former Aberdeen player Gordon Strachan, persuaded the striker-turned-midfielder to move south but, with no news conference arranged at Highfield Road, it was left to the Dons manager, Roy Aitken, to confirm the departure of Jess, who has been at Pittodrie since 1987. "The deal has been concluded," Aitken said.

Steve Claridge has had his proposed pounds 1.2m move to Leicester City blocked by the Birmingham manager, Barry Fry. The striker is involved in a pay dispute and looked set to make the switch. However, Fry handed Claridge a first-team recall for Tuesday's goalless home draw with Barnsley and then declared the deal off.

"I allowed Claridge to speak to Leicester and he tells me that he has agreed personal terms," Fry said. "But then Martin O'Neill tells me Claridge hasn't agreed terms. As as far as I am concerned the whole thing is off. Claridge stays here and sees out the remaining 18 months of his contract."

Claridge was disappointed at Fry's decision. "To say it is difficult to play now is the understatement of the year," he said. "I'm totally bewildered and disappointed at the way things have been handled. I don't know what's happening but there is a lot more to this story than meets the eye."

An exotic addition to Birmingham's ranks could be the Peruvian international midfielder, Roberto Palacios, who has arrived on trial from Sporting Lima. The 24-year-old is rated at pounds 1.5m.

On the way out of St Andrew's, temporarily, is the full-back Scott Hiley, who has gone to Manchester City on loan until the end of the season and could play against the Premiership leaders, Newcastle United, on Saturday.

Andy Walker had talks with the First Division's bottom club Sheffield United yesterday after Celtic accepted a pounds 500,000 offer for the striker, once Bolton's leading scorer two years running.

Ian Rush's relegation to the sidelines at Liverpool could be ended by a loan move to Oldham Athletic. The lowly First Division side want the striker and his fellow Anfield reserve, Jan Molby, to help lift them out of the doldrums. Oldham are willing to pick up the pair's wages for a month, at a cost of pounds 75,000. Rush is eager for action after losing his Liverpool place because his manager, Roy Evans, now prefers the combination of Stan Collymore and Robbie Fowler.

n Derby, the First Division leaders, have confirmed they are to leave the Baseball Ground and move to a new 30,000 all-seater stadium on the outskirts of the city. Keith Loring, the club's chief executive, announced the move to fans before last night's match against Luton Town.

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