Football: Brown's Scotland hint for Ferguson

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The Independent Online
THE SCOTLAND coach, Craig Brown, has paved the way for Newcastle United's new striker, Duncan Ferguson, to return to international football - less than a year after the striker said he would never play for his country again.

Brown responded to the 26-year-old Ferguson's hint on Wednesday that he had had a change of heart about representing Scotland following his transfer from Everton.

"As far as I am concerned I am delighted Duncan has given us another option and I will be monitoring his progress over the coming months," Brown said yesterday.

Gareth Barry is to be offered a new five-year contract by Aston Villa that could earn him up to half a million pounds a year. The 17-year-old, who has earned a regular place in the Villa side recently, plus a first England Under-21 cap against the Czech Republic last week, would earn pounds 2,500 a week, plus pounds 7,500 every time he appears for Villa.

"It is better, considering his age, to gear his contract to heavy incentives," Barry's manager, John Gregory, said. "He's not 18 until February and there's always a danger of paying him too much money."

The Welsh international Gareth Taylor has completed his pounds 400,000 move from Sheffield United to Manchester City. The 25-year-old striker will make his City debut at Luton tomorrow.

Huddersfield Town are trying to sign the midfielder Graham Hyde from Sheffield Wednesday in a pounds 500,000 deal.

The Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, reaffirmed his support for an African bid to host the 2006 World Cup finals when he met South Africa's president, Nelson Mandela, yesterday.

"It is logical that the World Cup finals goes to Africa in 2006 and if they can prove they can organise it, then I will back it 100 percent," Blatter said, after awarding Mandela with the Fifa Order of Merit.

The Belgian side, Genk, have failed to get a European Cup-Winners' Cup tie against Mallorca replayed, after protesting about the proximity of advertising boards to the pitch at the Spanish club's stadium.

Marko Viduka's Celtic debut, pencilled in for tomorrow's game against Motherwell, may still be held up. The pounds 3m signing from Croatia Zagreb is still waiting for a work permit from the Department for Employment and Education.

"I hope everything is sorted out soon or this will become the longest transfer in history," the Australian said yesterday.