Dutch striker back in Celtic fold

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The Independent Online
Pierre Van Hooijdonk is staying at Celtic for the time being. The striker, who scored twice for the Netherlands against Wales on Saturday, had talks yesterday with the club's manager, Tommy Burns, designed to clear the air after their long-running contract dispute.

Celtic claim Van Hooijdonk has demanded an improved pay deal, but the Dutchman has denied he has asked for more money.

It is believed the row has yet to be resolved completely, although there seems to have been a temporary settlement as Van Hooijdonk, last season's top scorer in Scotland who has 18 months on his existing contract to run, trained with the first team squad today, having been forced to train with the reserves yesterday.

Neil Ruddock can expect a hostile reception from Manchester United fans if he plays in Liverpool's Premiership match at Old Trafford on Saturday.

It was a tackle by the tough defender in last Saturday's reserve game at Anfield which left the United striker Andy Cole with a broken right ankle and a cracked bone in his left leg.

Ruddock, who is line to replace the injured Dominic Matteo this weekend, insists there was no malice in his challenge and says he asked Cole if he was all right. Cole, who faces a three-month lay-off, disagrees with Ruddock's version of events.

He expressed disappointment at Ruddock's assertion that there was no ill feeling and that the defender had spoken to him when he was on the ground. Cole said: "He didn't. I have had no contact with Neil Ruddock at all. He never said anything to me after the game, nothing whatsoever."

Stewart Houston is likely to make Chelsea's midfielder Gavin Peacock his first signing as manager of Queen's Park Rangers. Houston wants experienced players to bolster his young side and has been told by the club's new owner, Chris Wright, that he has pounds 6m to spend.

Peacock is keen to move on from Chelsea, having been left behind by Ruud Gullit's revolution, and is thinking over a return to Queen's Park Rangers, where he started his career.

Preston, of the Second Division, have broken their transfer record to sign the former Bolton and Notts County striker David Reeves from Carlisle for pounds 300,000, with the 22-year-old forward Allan Smart moving in the opposite direction.