Football: City have March sale to trim squad

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REPRESENTATIVES from more than 30 clubs attended Manchester City's reserve match against Coventry City at Altrincham on Tuesday as Joe Royle launched a March sale to try to trim his massive squad.

The new Maine Road manager is desperate to shift a number of transfer- listed players before the 26 March deadline and is prepared to accept reduced offers for several expensive signings or even allow them to be transferred without a fee. Royle was at the game together with his assistant, Willie Donachie, to handle any potential deals.

There were almost as many club representatives as supporters and it was standing room only in the half-time refreshment room in the main stand.

"We are trying to move people on. There was a lot of people watching our reserves and we will see what develops from there," Royle said.

"I have sent a circular round clubs and we are prepared to make players very cheap or as free transfers to help them on their way. We now must wait to see what happens."

The players on show that Royle wants to sell included Nigel Clough, Paul Beesley, Jason Van Blerk, Tony Vaughan, Gerry Creaney, Neil Heaney, Tony Scully and Martin Phillips.

Managers there to watch them included West Bromwich's Denis Smith, Ronnie Moore, of Rotherham, and the former City manager Brian Horton, now in charge at Brighton.

Tranmere's director of football, John King, and Fulham scout Jimmy Conway, plus representatives from Middlesbrough, Sunderland, Cardiff, Carlisle, Millwall, Luton, Stockport, Plymouth, Bury and Macclesfield were also looking for bargains.

The Coventry defender Liam Daish has suffered another injury setback and will be out of action for three more weeks.

Daish had targeted a comeback in the reserves this week after five operations and 14 months out of action with a damaged cruciate ligament in his left knee. But he had more surgery in Birmingham last night after injuring his other knee in training and will be put until the end of the month.

"This is frustrating. The left knee now is fine and I was eyeing up the possibility of a reserve game in the next week," he said.

"This last 12 months has been a bit soul-destroying at times.

"I can't wait to start playing again but anything I get out of this season in that sense will be a bonus because it's now going to be the start of April before I'm ready for any action.

"It's next season that is going to be very big for me, when I will be wanting to make up for lost time, and I will work right through the summer."