FOOTBALL: Brown moves to Bramall Lane in new position as Royle `spy'

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The Independent Online
SHEFFIELD UNITED have been allowed to sign the midfielder Michael Brown from Manchester City - with a request for him to do some damage to City's promotion rivals.

Brown goes straight into Neil Warnock's team for the televised match with Blackburn Rovers tomorrow, and although Sheffield United do not have the pounds 750,000 to sign Brown full-time, the City manager, Joe Royle, is hoping for a hidden dividend.

United face Charlton and Fulham as well as Blackburn in the month while he is on loan and Brown may help stop their charges towards the Premier League. "Michael can be a spy and a big help along the way. United have some important games and he will do well for them," Royle said.

Brown has recently returned from a loan spell at Portsmouth where a projected move fell through after Alan Ball was dismissed. However, he is one of several City players who could be moved out to balance the books after a recent spending spree. Despite their lowly position, Swindon fancy their chances against Royle's side today and the assistant manager, Mike Walsh, said: "We're certainly not dreading it in any way."

Huddersfield aim to put the disappointment of their FA Cup defeat against Liverpool behind them when they take on Grimsby at the Alfred McAlpine Stadium. The Terriers are top of the Nationwide League and the manager, Steve Bruce, does not want all their hard work to go to waste just because of one bad result. "It's important that we forget about last Sunday's defeat in the big Cup tie and concentrate on the bread and butter," he said.

Bruce is hoping to have Chris Beech back in action. The midfielder has been out with a calf injury and will undergo a fitness test. Grimsby have the striker Jack Lester back from suspension, while Bradley Allen is likely to overcome a niggling injury.

The Ipswich manager, George Burley, is determined to keep pace with the leaders as they entertain West Bromwich Allen. "It's important that we try and keep up there because there are so many good teams involved. It's where you finish that counts," he said.

Gerry Francis, the Queen's Park Rangers manager, does not need to be told that. The West London side's rise up the table is in danger of coming to an abrupt halt today when he must face Charlton at Loftus Road without nine players because of injury and suspension. "It will be a tough test and it is frustrating that I cannot field the team I'd like to," he said.

Another manager with problems is David Platt, who knows time is running out for him at Nottingham Forest. Crewe arrive at the City Ground today with Platt aware that nothing but three point will do. "We've got to start winning games without delay," he said.

Platt will remain loyal to the players who impressed in the 0-0 midweek draw with Fulham, although the defender Kevin Dawson is suspended. Chris Doig will step in.

Crewe will be chasing their fourth consecutive league victory and could have Shaun Smith back in contention. The Crewe manager, Dario Gradi, is impressed that Platt has kept to his principles. "He's got them trying to play and he's doing things his way," said Gradi.