Football: Celtic's pounds 1.5m secures Mjallby

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The Independent Online
CELTIC ARE expected to parade the Swedish midfielder Johan Mjallby at Parkhead today, with his protracted transfer from AIK Stockholm now all but concluded. A fee of around pounds 1.5m is understood to have been agreed for the player who is in Glasgow to finalise personal terms and undergo a medical.

The 27-year-old midfielder's move should be completed in time for him to be in contention for a high-profile debut this Saturday against Rangers at Parkhead.

Whether Celtic have Marko Viduka alongside him in their starting line- up appears more doubtful, but further progress has been made, according to the forward's representatives.

Celtic are known to have already applied for a work permit for the Croatia Zagreb striker and yesterday there was a firm indication that Viduka's personal terms have been met.

A spokesman for Viduka's agents, International Management Group, said: "Marko and Celtic have come to an official arrangement and they are now making sure that everything is in place legally."

There was encouraging news, too, for Celtic with Alan Stubbs (groin) and Stephane Mahe (ankle) both rated likely to make the Old Firm derby after injury.

The Scottish Football Association has confirmed that the Scotland midfielder Paul Lambert is available for the game having completed his suspension at St Johnstone last week. However, David Hannah, suffering from a stomach bug, could miss a match that could leave Celtic 13 points adrift of Rangers if they lose.

A further boost for Celtic, though, has come from the long-term injury victim Morten Wieghorst, who has predicted he could well return to action before the end of the season. The Danish international midfielder sustained a serious leg injury against Kilmarnock in a pre-season testimonial for Ray Montgomerie at Rugby Park. It was thought he would be sidelined for the remainder of the campaign, but he said: "I definitely hope to still play some part in this season.

"The injury is looking good, I am able to run on it which is a step in the right direction, though it is early days and I am still some distance from playing. I have my own target of when I can be back, but I would rather keep that to myself just now, except to say it should be before this season is out."

The former Norwegian national coach Egil Olsen has signed a three-year contract to manage the elite division club Valerenga, with an escape clause after 12 months if he should change his mind. Olsen, who resigned from the Norway job after the World Cup finals in June, was hired by Valerenga on a temporary contract in August after a series of defeats had left the Oslo club facing relegation.

His arrival reversed the fortunes of the club, which finished in seventh position in the elite division and also qualified for the quarter-finals of the European Cup-Winners' Cup after an unexpected victory over Turkey's Besiktas. The win was acclaimed in the Norwegian media as Olsen's "greatest miracle".

"There are many reasons why I have decided to continue at Valerenga, one being that I can work with what I know best - soccer," Olsen, 56, said yesterday. "Another reason is the relationship that has developed between the trainers and players this autumn. I have received a lot of encouragement to continue and I am pleased."

Olsen, affectionately known to Norwegians as "Drillo" because of his dribbling skills as a player, took Norway to the World Cup finals in 1994 and 1998, ending a drought stretching back to World War Two.

Russia may consider legalising stadium advertising for alcohol and cigarettes to raise money for local football which is chronically underfunded, a Kremlin aide said yesterday.

Oleg Sysuyev, President Boris Yeltsin's deputy chief-of-staff with a brief covering sport, said that money was urgently needed to raise standards after a succession of embarrassing failures.