Football: Claridge to leave Leicester

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The Independent Online
Steve Claridge, whose Wembley play-off goal took Leicester City into the Premiership two seasons ago, has been made available for transfer after failing to win a regular place in the side this season.

The 31-year-old former Birmingham City and Cambridge United striker has seen his opportunities reduced since the signings of Tony Cottee and Graham Fenton. Claridge has had amicable talks with the Leicester manager, Martin O'Neill, who will now listen to offers.

"The manager and fans have been great to me and it will be a shame to leave," Claridge said. "However, I need regular first-team football and will consider any move."

O'Neill is apparently ready to move for the former German international centre-back, Dietmar Beiersdorfer. The 32-year-old flew in yesterday for talks about joining on a free transfer from the Italian side, Reggiana.

The club's chairman, Tom Smeaton, has promised to respond to O'Neill's demand for money to strengthen his squad. The club float on the Stock Exchange later this month and Smeaton said: "We're hoping to take in pounds 12m and the money will go in all directions.

"Money for players has been my policy since I became chairman and I can assure Martin that nothing has changed. I've never given a set figure - but it will certainly be a substantial sum."

The recuperating England winger Steve Stone has signed a new four and a half year contract with the First Division leaders, Nottingham Forest.

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