Football: England blow as Pallister is ruled out

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Glenn Hoddle learned yesterday that Manchester United have withdrawn Gary Pallister from England's summer schedule. The central defender will undergo surgery tomorrow after results of a scan revealed he will need a cartilage removed.

The 31-year-old will now miss the friendly with South Africa at Old Trafford on 24 May, the World Cup qualifier in Poland a week later and the four- nation tournament in France in June. The 22-year-old Liverpool defender Dominic Matteo is likely to take Pallister's place.

Pallister's withdrawal comes less than 24 hours after the Liverpool manager, Roy Evans, said he wants to pull Steve McManaman and Robbie Fowler out of England's forthcoming games as both players also require surgery.

Another United player who will not be competing for his country this summer is Denis Irwin, who has pulled out of the Republic of Ireland squad for next Wednesday's World Cup qualifier against Liechtenstein at Lansdowne Road. The 31-year- old defender is troubled by a groin injury.

Better news for Ryan Giggs, who will be fit for the start of next season following precautionary surgery against a hernia yesterday.

Controversy continues to dog Alex Ferguson, whose description of the Premier League as a "tiddlywinks league" has incurred the ire of its chief executive, Peter Leaver. The United manager made the damning assessment after the kick-off of Coventry's vital last match of the season at Tottenham was delayed. He was also critical of the League last month when it refused to alleviate United's congested fixture list.

Leaver said: "It seems that Manchester United feel they should be given consideration which other clubs may not get, but I have to be even-handed."

Blackburn Rovers' next foreign acquisition could be the Borussia Dortmund striker Stephane Chapuisat. Blackburn yesterday offered pounds 4.2m for the Swiss international, who is likely to be sold by the European Cup finalists.

Slaven Bilic arrived at Everton yesterday following a pounds 4.5m transfer from West Ham, making him football's most expensive defender. The 28-year- old Croat has signed a five-year contract.

The Bradford City manager, Chris Kamara, is attempting to lure Peter Beardsley from Newcastle United, with the added bait of a coaching role for the former England international.

Sol Campbell yesterday committed his future to Tottenham when he signed a new four-year contract, ending speculation that the gifted defender may leave White Hart Lane.