Football: Blackburn keen on Casiraghi to boost title challenge

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The Independent Online
Pierluigi Casiraghi is the player Roy Hodgson wants to add an additional cutting edge to Blackburn Rovers' attempt to win their second Premiership title in three years.

Hodgson, who has already exceeded expectations by steering Rovers to joint second in the table, wants the 28-year-old Lazio striker to compete with Chris Sutton and Kevin Gallacher. Blackburn can expect to pay a club record pounds 6m to pounds 7m for Casiraghi - but the problem may be wages.

Casiraghi's demands could be too high for the club's owner, Jack Walker. However, Hodgson insists that Rovers need to strengthen their squad with top players. He has also been watching other top strikers, such as Monaco's Thierry Henry and Viktor Ikpeba.

Howard Wilkinson is, it seems, staying with the Football Association. Hints had emerged that the former Leeds manager might reconsider his future as the FA's technical director if his "Charter for Quality" proposals were not backed.

David Pleat's dismissal as Sheffield Wednesday manager last week led to reports that the South Yorkshire club were poised to offer Wilkinson the chance to return to the club he managed a decade ago. Yesterday, though, the FA Council gave its "overwhelming support" for Wilkinson's plans for youth development, which includes the establishment of academies of excellence at the country's biggest clubs.

Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager, and Geert Meijer, Feyenoord's caretaker coach, have almost certainly escaped punishment for their touchline row during the Champions' League match in Rotterdam last Wednesday.

Officials at Uefa, European football's ruling body, indicated yesterday that the altercation, following the foul by Paul Bosvelt on Denis Irwin, has not been included in either the referee's or the official delegation's reports. But a final decision will not be taken until Thursday, when Uefa's disciplinary committee meets.

The West Bromwich defender Shane Nicholson faces the prospect of a lengthy ban from the game after failing a drugs test for an amphetamine. The former Lincoln and Derby player, 27, gave the positive sample to the FA's doping control unit at Albion's training ground on 13 October.

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