Football: Atkinson keen to bring Croatian pair to Sheffield

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The Independent Online
Sheffield Wednesday's new manager, Ron Atkinson, is chasing the Croatian international striker Igor Cvitanovic and the midfielder Silvio Maric.

Atkinson flew to Zagreb to watch Cvitanovic and Maric in Uefa Cup action for Croatia Zagreb against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday, after being impressed by them against Newcastle earlier this season.

Cvitanovic scored in both the home and away legs against the Magpies. He should be available at about pounds 2m when his club is knocked out of Europe. However, Maric is only on the fringe of the Croatian side which might cast doubts about whether he could gain a work permit.

Roy Hodgson's bid to bring the Swedish striker Pascal Simpson to Blackburn Rovers has been delayed by an injury. The AIK Stockholm target man is due at Ewood Park for talks this week about a pounds 1.5m move, but he will not be fit to play for about a month after surgery on an ankle problem.

The Leeds United manager, George Graham, will watch the Rosenborg Trondheim striker Sigurd Rushfeldt in his club's Champions' League game at home to Real Madrid to. The 24-year-old had a spell with Birmingham City two seasons ago.

The Birmingham manager, Trevor Francis, has set up a move for the Swedish striker Thomas Andersen, who is a free agent at the end of his contract with Vasteras, where he scored 14 goals last season. Andersen was due to play for Birmingham's reserves last night.

Francis has been given 18 months to turn the First Division club into promotion challengers. City's board of directors yesterday issued a statement supporting him in a move to dismiss speculation that they are on the verge of sacking the former England striker .

Birmingham have taken only 22 points from 19 League matches this season, winning just five games, but their chairman, David Gold, said: "It is only fair to give the manager time to do the job he was brought in to do. Of course we are concerned with recent results, but we believe that the team is playing well and that it is only a matter of time before the wins come."

The Chelsea defender Frank Sinclair has opted to fight for a place in Jamaica's World Cup side rather than aim for a chance with England. The Wimbledon forward Robbie Earle, the Derby striker Deon Burton and the Portsmouth players Paul Hall and Fitzroy Simpson are already part of the Jamaican set-up.

The 25-year-old Sinclair said: "I've made up my mind I want to play for Jamaica. Robbie has convinced me that the set-up with Jamaica is excellent and now I have to convince the coach I am worth a place when he comes to England."

The Sheffield United midfielder Dane Whitehouse could be out of action for a year after suffering a serious knee injury. The 27-year-old, who has spent his entire career with the Blades, whom he joined in 1988, faces surgery to repair anterior cruciate and lateral ligament damage sustained during Saturday's goalless draw with Port Vale.