Football: Elliott move to Blackburn is blocked

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Robbie Elliott's worst fears were realised when his pounds 3m move from Newcastle to Blackburn collapsed last night because of the cruciate ligament operation he had five years ago.

Blackburn's owner, Jack Walker, has a strict policy on checking past injuries, and he blocked the move even though Elliott's knee has come through more than 100 games for Newcastle since. Elliott headed back to Newcastle to an uncertain future as he is out of contract and is the lowest- paid member of the first-team squad. Alan Shearer, who made a successful reverse journey from Blackburn to Newcastle, had a more recent knee operation than the rejected full-back.

The worst kept secret in the Premiership - that Arsene Wenger will be Bruce Rioch's replacement at Arsenal, is not yet official. The announcement due yesterday has been moved to next Tuesday. The man himself hardly dampened expectations that he will leave Japan's Grampus 8 by saying yesterday: "Arsenal are right up there as one of the biggest clubs, so it would be a very big challenge for me, probably the biggest of my career."

The former England goalkeeper Ray Clemence has quit as manager of Barnet to join Glenn Hoddle's international coaching set-up. Clemence, 48, succeeds Mike Kelly as specialist goalkeeping coach. Like the Under-21 coach Peter Taylor, he has taken the job on a full-time basis and will have wider duties in the new regime.

Patrick Berger completed his pounds 3m move to Liverpool from Borussia Dortmund and so achieved a lifetime's ambition. The 22-year-old Czech international revealed that he has followed the Anfield club's fortunes since the mid- 70s.

Conversely, Jovan Kirovski, unable to get a work permit in order to break into Manchester United's first team, has made the opposite journey to join Borussia. The 20-year-old American international scored 20 goals as United's reserves won the Pontins League last season.

A day before the Premiership kick-off and those who will be absent make impressive reading. Berger himself injured a calf during his final training session with Dortmund and may not make his Liverpool debut against Middlesbrough. Even if he does recover, he may not face Boro's Juninho, who has not trained in the past two weeks after returning from the Olympic Games with a knee ligament injury.

Aston Villa will be without Mark Bosnich for their match at Sheffield Wednesday. He missed the pre-season programme with a foot injury and suffered a knee injury in training yesterday. He is replaced by the England Under- 21 goalkeeper Michael Oakes, who will make his full debut.

Villa hope to obtain a new work permit for Sasa Curcic, signed for pounds 4m from Bolton on Wednesday, in time for him to play against Blackburn on Wednesday. John Pemberton made it a trio of absentees for Leeds United. With Tony Yeboah and Tony Dorigo definitely out, the defender had a cartilage operation yesterday.

Andy Cole is likely to be the only player unavailable for Manchester United as they begin their defence of the title at Wimbledon. Alex Ferguson has ruled out an approach for Miguel Nadal, the Barcelona defender. "Nadal is one of many foreign players we had a look at, but now that the European deadline has passed, the matter is dead."

Uefa will offer English clubs the chance to play this season for two places in the next season's Champions' League as part of an eight-country elite comprising the champions of England, Italy, Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Portugal and Belgium. The Premiership winners will be among the seeds who go straight in to the group games in the 1997-98 season, and the runners-up will also be put into the two-legged qualifying round against the champions from smaller countries - that may include Scotland - for a place in the 24-team competition.

Fulham were yesterday given the go-ahead to redevelop Craven Cottage, their home for the last 100 years. The Third Division club, who have spent 10 years trying to secure its future, plan to remodel the ground into a 15,000-capacity all-seater stadium by 2000.

Stewart McKimmie will miss Scotland's opening World Cup qualifier in Austria on 31 August. The Aberdeen captain and defender undergoes a knee operation today.