Football: Cleared Bosnich says thank you to Everton fans

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The Independent Online
MARK BOSNICH, the Aston Villa goalkeeper, was yesterday cleared by the Football Association of swearing at Everton supporters. A three- man disciplinary committee found the charge, relating to Villa's 0-0 draw at Goodison Park on 15 August, not proven.

Letters from Everton fans claiming that Bosnich had done nothing wrong were produced as evidence at the 75-minute hearing. "I would like to say a big thank you to all the supporters who wrote in with support, saying exactly what happened, and to the FA who reacted in a very fair and impartial way," a relieved Bosnich said. "It's really all over now. I'd rather not hit the back pages for things like this. I'd rather it was all about football."

Bosnich could well have a new team-mate soon at Villa Park, as the Dion Dublin saga should be resolved over the weekend. Coventry City's in-demand England striker is expected to sign for the Birmingham club, following Villa's renewed efforts to make their pounds 5.1m bid attractive to club and player. Dublin rejected a pounds 6.75m move to Blackburn Rovers on Thursday.

Dublin's representative hit back at Coventry's decision not to allow the striker to speak to clubs other than Rovers: "A key clause in Dion's contract with Coventry makes it crystal clear that if the club receives an offer of pounds 5m or more, he has the right to decide on a transfer," Struan Marshall said.

Roy Hodgson, the Blackburn manager, has still managed to bolster his attacking options with the pounds 4.25m capture of Nathan Blake, the Wales striker from Bolton Wanderers. Blake takes Hodgson's spending to more than pounds 30m in 15 months.

Blake completed the switch from cash-strapped Bolton within hours of Dublin rejecting Rovers but said: "I am not second choice to anybody."

Bolton will receive pounds 3.75m up front and a further pounds 500,000 will be added to that figure after Blake has played 50 games.

One setback for Blackburn yesterday, however, was the discovery that their other new boy, Oumar Konde, the Swiss Under-21 international, will be out for several weeks with a stomach strain.

Another player who aims to resolve his future this weekend is Pavel Srnicek, the Czech Republic goalkeeper. Srnicek, who spent eight years with Newcastle United before being released in the summer, is to discuss terms with Danny Wilson, the Sheffield Wednesday manager, after impressing in a five-day trial.

Paul Gascoigne and Pierre Van Hooijdonk have to wait until tomorrow's match at the Riverside to resume their associations with Middlesbrough and Nottingham Forest respectively following self-imposed exiles, although both may have to wait even longer for a playing role.

Arsene Wenger fielded a complete second string which was still good enough for Arsenal to overcome Derby County in the Worthington Cup, while Manchester United adopted the same policy and struggled to beat Bury. Both will be back to near full strength today, United for the tricky trip to Goodison Park to meet an Everton side who may be yet to score at home this season but are now unbeaten in 10 matches.

Liverpool also face a difficult away day at Filbert Street, where there are no signs of Leicester City's confidence being undermined by Martin O'Neill's dilly-dallying. Muzzy Izzet is in outstanding form in the centre of Leicester's midfield and Liverpool's odd couple, Roy Evans and Gerard Houllier, must once again perm two strikers from Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen and Karlheinz Riedle, each of whom has been rested in Liverpool's last three matches.

David O'Leary, who benefited from O'Neill's decision to stay at Leicester, travels to Pride Park with Leeds United for his first Premiership game as a fully paid-up manager. There he will encounter the longest-serving manager of all, Jim Smith, whose Derby side have lost their way for the time being with just one point from their last four games.

Julian Dicks, a remarkably accomplished golfer, looks like spending more time on the fairways than on the pitch this season after being told by Harry Redknapp, West Ham's manager, that he is no longer an automatic choice following last weekend's 4-2 defeat at Charlton. By all accounts the 30-year-old defender, who only returned this season after 18 months out with a knee injury, had a shocker at left wing-back.

"There is still a place for him at West Ham, but he's not going to be a regular any more and I don't know if he is going to be happy with that situation," Redknapp said. "It's not for me to say whether he will carry on but I will help him in any way I can. He is just finding it too difficult to do the job. It means a fair bit of running and he just cannot do it any more." Dicks himself has expressed a preference for playing as a centre- back, but that is unlikely to happen at Newcastle today.

In the day's basement bargain, Sheffield Wednesday are so underwhelmed by the prospect of Southampton's visit they are giving away 10,000 tickets for the game at Hillsborough. Now, Southampton may be bad, but surely...