Football: Bassett is Huddersfield target

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DAVE BASSETT last night emerged as a candidate to fill the vacant managerial position at Huddersfield Town.

Steve Bruce, the manager of Sheffield United, is regarded as the favourite, but sources close to the First Division club suggested Bassett was the chairman Barry Rubery's preferred replacement for Peter Jackson, who was sacked this week.

Under Jackson Huddersfield finished ninth, but Bradford City's promotion to the Premiership has changed expectations. While Huddersfield have not played in the top flight since 1972 the feeling is that if Bradford, and recently, Barnsley, can reach the Premiership, so should the Terriers.

Bassett, the former Wimbledon, Watford, Sheffield United, Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forest manager, is regarded as having the necessary experience and contacts.

Bassett is keen to get back into the game and Huddersfield, being close to his family's Sheffield base, is a tempting prospect especially as Rubery is prepared to invest in the team. Last night, though, Bassett said: "No one has been in touch with me at the moment."

Denis Smith's future as West Bromwich Albion's manager is in doubt after remarks by the Baggies' chairman, Tony Hale. Asked whether Smith would be in charge next season, Hale said: "It's a difficult one. I can't speak for my colleagues but there's a lot to discuss."

At nearby Molineux, the Wolves manager Colin Lee and his assistant, John Ward, are continuing talks with the club over their future. Lee is seeking clarification about Wolves' plans for the future, with his squad set to be weakened due to a number of players being out of contract this summer.

Darren Ferguson, the son of the Manchester United manager, has been given a free transfer by Wolves, along with the Spanish midfielder Fernando Gomez. David Connolly, the Republic of Ireland striker, has left Molineux to rejoin Feyenoord.

Aston Villa, still considering Colombia's Farid Mondragon as a replacement for Mark Bosnich, are also interested in Sander Westerveld of the Dutch club, Vitesse Arnhem.

Nigel Winterburn will miss the final game of Arsenal's title defence after undergoing surgery on his broken nose.

The experienced full-back was left bloodied and bruised on the turf at Elland Road on Tuesday after a collision with the Leeds defender Alf-Inge Haaland late in the game. His nose was broken but fears that he may have suffered further injuries were eased yesterday after a hospital operation went successfully.

Sheffield Wednesday are just a ballot away from appearing in next season's Uefa Cup.

Wednesday have long been in the running for the highly-criticised "back- door route" into Europe via the Fair Play League, based on the good behaviour of players, club officials and supporters.

There are three places available in the Uefa Cup via the Fair Play League, one of which goes to the "fairest European nation" and in particular that nation's "cleanest" side which tops the domestic Fair Play ranking, irrespective of league position.

The other two places are determined by ballot, to take place at the end of this month, and will only include nations who average more than eight Fair Play points per game. In a provisional table drawn up by Uefa in mid-March, England were in third place, apparently with no chance of falling below the eight-point requirement by the time of the ballot.

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