Davenport back in search of century

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The Independent Online
Nationwide League:

The 99th Football League season starts today with a new club, Macclesfield Town, fielding a familiar name - Peter Davenport, their player-coach - who stands on 99 League goals.

While he will be trying to bring up his century in a home match against Torquay in the Third Division, Chris Waddle will be making his debut as a player-manager, with Burnley. He will be taking on a Watford side whose fortunes are in the hands of Graham Taylor, the one-time England manager who did not recognise Waddle's international qualities.

Bryan Robson, the former England captain, believes his Middlesbrough squad can win promotion back to the Premiership at the first attempt. They begin their First Division campaign against Charlton at the Riverside.

Boro, galvanised by the signing of Paul Merson, are the favourites to win the title. "I believe I have the best squad in the First Division," he said. "I would not swap my squad for any other."

Manchester City's pounds 3.5m striker, Lee Bradbury, will partner Uwe Rosler in attack against his former club, Portsmouth, at Maine Road. Another former Portsmouth player, Kit Symons, has shaken off a flu virus and Rosler has recovered from a slight hamstring strain. But Martyn Margetson retains his place in goal as Tommy Wright, the Northern Ireland international, has a leg injury.

John Aloisi, an Australian international firward signed from Cremonese for pounds 300,000 this week, is in line to make his Portsmouth debut. His fellow Australian, Hamilton Thorp, could also play his first match, but Russell Perrett is ruled out of the defence with a knee injury.

Steve Stone looks likely to start his comeback from serious injury in Nottingham Forest's match against Port Vale. Last time they played at Vale Park - exactly 40 years ago - they won 7-1.

Wolves give a debut to their 17-year-old Irish forward, Robbie Keane, against Norwich City at Carrow Road.

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