Football: Bridges opts for youthful Leeds

MICHAEL BRIDGES has denied demanding excessive wages from Tottenham Hotspur after signing for Leeds United in a deal believed to be worth pounds 5m. The 20-year-old met Spurs officials earlier this month after being transfer- listed by Sunderland, but insists that his rejection of Spurs' offer was just to allow him to speak to other interested parties.

"I have joined Leeds because I believe that they are assembling the best group of young players in the country and I can see us challenging for honours," he said.

Stephen Hughes has dropped down to the First Division to join Fulham on a three-month loan deal from Arsenal with a view to a permanent move. The 22-year-old midfielder is the second high- profile loan signing at Craven Cottage this week after the striker Stan Collymore agreed a similar move from Aston Villa.

Hughes, a former England Under-21 international, struggled to maintain a first-team place at Highbury, with Ray Parlour, Marc Overmars and French stars Emmanuel Petit and Patrick Vieira always ahead of him in the queue. Now the Brazilian Silvinho stands in his way, too.

Robbie Blake has turned down the offer of a new contract with the Premiership newcomers Bradford City for the third time this month. The 23-year-old striker scored 16 league goals during the Bantams' promotion season but he has frustrated the club by refusing the offer of a new five-year deal.

Brighton end their two-year exile from the town today when they entertain Nottingham Forest in a friendly match at the Withdean Stadium. The Third Division club has secured a safety certificate to enable the match to go ahead and a sell-out crowd of 6,000 is expected.

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