Football: Celtic to tap Slovak talent

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The Independent Online
CELTIC ARE keen to launch a school of excellence in Slovakia. The Scottish Premier League title-chasers have sent former head coach Dr Jozef Venglos back to his homeland to investigate tapping into a potentially vast pool of talent in the eastern European country.

When Kenny Dalglish moved back to Parkhead as technical director he retained Venglos because of his European know-how. Venglos was responsible for successfully bringing the Slovakian international Lubomir Moravcik to Glasgow.

"If we have people there who have the credibility of Jozef then we will be halfway to getting the best young players on side," said Dalglish. "If we decide that such a school will be of value then we will look seriously at moving forward and if the school does go ahead we would leave the project in the hands of Jozef."

It has yet to be decided whether Celtic would link up with a Slovakian league club, similar to Manchester United's tie-in with the Belgian outfit Royal Antwerp.

Aberdeen completed the purchase of the Norwegian defender Thomas Solberg last night, manager Ebbe Skovdahl's second Pittodrie signing. The three- year deal went through after the clubs agreed an undisclosed fee.

Solberg goes straight into the Aberdeen squad for their Premier League game against St Johnstone at Pittodrie on Sunday.

The former Rangers striker Mark Hateley, now 38, is a target for the ambitious Scottish Second Division side Ross County. Their manager Neale Cooper said: "Discussions are at the early stages but a move has been talked about.

"We are keen not to panic or rush into anything, but he is an attractive option and the sort of target man we need."

Dundee United have today won their appeal against the initial refusal of a work permit for Jan Telasnikov. The 27-year-old Israeli international midfielder is now free to complete his pounds 550,000 move from Beitar Jerusalem.

The Tannadice club's first application to the Department for Education and Employment was rejected, but permission has now been formally granted.

Telasnikov, who has signed a four-year contract, is still awaiting the formality of receiving international clearance from Uefa, European football's ruling body, but could come into contention for Sunday's game with Kilmarnock at Tannadice.

The move ends a long chase by United's manager Paul Sturrock and could be the first in a number of big-money arrivals to the Tayside club.

Negotiations for a substantial cash injection have been ongoing for several months, which could help the Tangerines mount a credible challenge to be the clear third force in the Scottish game.

United have already surprised Celtic this season with a 2-1 win over the Hoops a fortnight ago, but Rangers proved their strength against Sturrock's side on Saturday, running out comfortable 4-1 winners at Ibrox.

Hibernian's manager, Alex McLeish, is recovering in an Edinburgh hospital after having his appendix removed. McLeish has guided the newly-promoted Easter Road club to an unbeaten four-match start on their return to the Premier League.

McLeish's assistant Andy Watson will take charge when the Edinburgh club entertain Rangers on Saturday, although McLeish is expected to be fit enough to watch the game from the stand.

"Alex and Andy have worked very closely together and we are quite comfortable with the situation," said a Hibernian spokesman, David Forsyth.

"We don't want to put any pressure on Alex to return and the team is in quite capable hands."