Football: Clough's Collymore bids fail

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BRIAN CLOUGH was yesterday on the receiving end of a metaphorical two-fingered gesture of defiance from Southend United, who twice rejected offers for their striker Stan Collymore. A similar salute from the Nottingham Forest manager to the club's supporters on Sunday - although Clough insisted he was signalling to his full-back - has put him under threat of disciplinary action from the Football Association.

While Forest were being held at home by Leeds, their representatives were watching Collymore score in Southend's 3-3 draw with Millwall. It was his 13th goal in 22 games since arriving from Crystal Palace for pounds 150,000 in November.

Forest's initial pounds 1.5m bid yesterday morning was turned down. They later returned with an offer of pounds 1.75m but again the First Division side declined.

The FA are writing to Clough for his observations on Sunday's incident which occurred after his son, Nigel, was criticised by a section of the crowd. It was an unhappy way to mark his 58th birthday. Tonight he will receive the freedom of the City of Nottingham in recognition of his achievements with the club.

Bryan Robson is poised to start a Premier League fixture for the first time for three months tomorrow against Arsenal at Old Trafford. The former England captain, who has had a sciatica problem, needs four more appearances to be certain of a championship medal should United prevail, and he stands by to replace the suspended Mark Hughes.

Sammy Lee, the 34-year-old Liverpool reserve team manager, could make a surprise return at Crystal Palace tonight, seven years after his last senior appearance for the club.

Danny Wilson, Sheffield Wednesday's former Northern Ireland captain, was again missing when manager Billy Bingham named a 17-man squad for the World Cup qualifying tie with the Republic of Ireland in Dublin tomorrow week.

Wednesday and Arsenal have been told they must play five games in 11 days before a possible meeting in the FA Cup final. The clubs also face each other in the Coca-Cola Cup final at Wembley on 18 April.

Northern Ireland squad,

Sports Digest, page 33