Football: Benson takes over at Wigan

SECOND DIVISION Wigan yesterday appointed John Benson as their new manager - and gave a public pledge to provide him with pounds 3m for new players.

Benson, a former Manchester City manager, replaces Ray Mathias, who was sacked after the Lancashire side lost their play-off semi-final at Maine Road. In a statement, Wigan said Benson "has asked for and has been given up to pounds 3m to strengthen the squad".

The Wigan chairman, Dave Whelan, said: "John is undoubtedly one of the most knowledgable men in football management."

Halifax are to appoint the Scunthorpe assistant manager, Mark Lillis, as their new manager tomorrow morning. The 38-year-old will sign a two- year contract with the Shaymen, who finished 10th in the Third Division last season.

Manchester City goalkeeper Nick Weaver, whose penalty shoot-out saves during the Second Division play-off final against Gillingham put City into the First Division on Monday, has been denied his first England Under-21 cap through injury.

The goalkeeper was hoping to play in Friday's European Championship game with Sweden, but has a leg injury. Also missing will be the Everton's Michael Ball (groin) and Francis Jeffers (tonsillitis), Aston Villa's Lee Hendrie (ankle) and Tottenham's Luke Young (foot).

Oyvind Leonhardsen has been criticised on Norwegian television for going on holiday after snubbing his country's European qualifier in Albania.

"I'm dropping out of the Albania game because I think it's meaningless to travel there with the [political] situation," the Liverpool midfielder explained

The Irish government is hoping for European Union support as they attempt to persuade European football's governing body, Uefa, to call off Saturday's European championship qualifier against Yugoslavia in Dublin. A spokeswoman said Irish ministers made no decision at yesterday's cabinet meeting on whether to refuse visas to Yugoslav players.