Football: Blackburn abandon pursuit of Thomas

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JACK WALKER can put his cheque book away for the moment at least. Blackburn, it seems, are not signing the England midfield player Geoff Thomas after all.

A call yesterday from Blackburn Rovers to the Crystal Palace chairman, Ron Noades, brought an end to a transfer story which had run for much of August. Noades hopes the Palace captain now can settle down again at Selhurst Park. 'All the speculation unsettled him and it's important it ceases forthwith so he can concentrate on Crystal Palace,' he said.

With or without selling Thomas, Palace are intent on buying Wimbledon's Terry Phelan, even though the cost of persuading the full-back to move his kit from one peg to another at Selhurst Park will be pounds 2.5m. Wimbledon last night gave Phelan permission to talk to Palace.

Tranmere Rovers want to sign Pat Nevin, the Everton winger who spent a month at Prenton Park last season, for about pounds 350,000, but Nevin has yet to decide whether he wants to cross the Mersey.

Neil Webb is likely to be among the Manchester United substitutes for the Premier match against Everton tonight, when Mike Phelan, on the bench on Saturday, will replace the injured Paul Ince in midfield.

Another England midfield player, David Batty, has a calf injury which threatens his place in the Leeds side to face Aston Villa. His absence would give David Rocastle the chance of a debut after his pounds 2m transfer from Arsenal.

Back at Highbury the talk was not of players but spectators, or rather the mural depicting them which hides the rebuilding work on the North Bank. There are apparently no black or female faces on the painting so the artists are to touch it up to make it representative of all Arsenal's fans.