Football: Ferguson's list of two

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The Independent Online
ALEX FERGUSON has revealed he has a short list of two to replace his goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, but yesterday denied reports that he had already approached Ajax's Edwin Van der Sar.

The Manchester United manager dismissed Van der Sar's claims that transfer talks had begun as "nonsense", but admitted that there are now only two names in line for the role.

Mark Bosnich, who is likely to leave Aston Villa on a free transfer under the Bosman ruling this summer, could be one of them and he is once again being strongly linked with a return to Old Trafford.

Ferguson said: "I've not made my mind up about a goalkeeper, although there are two we're thinking about. When the time comes to announce a goalkeeping replacement, we will announce it."

Earlier yesterday a Manchester United director, Maurice Watkins, had also poured cold water on Van der Sar's claims that they had approached him. "I'm not aware of anything of that nature," he said.

Van der Sar has made no secret of his desire to leave Ajax and join United. He has made his feelings known to the United defender and Dutch international team-mate Jaap Stam, who has championed his cause with Ferguson.

While it is likely that Ferguson would be interested in Van der Sar, he is presently under contract and Ajax would want a fee of around pounds 5m for one of their few remaining stars.

The Dutch national keeper, who is set to earn his 37th cap in a friendly against Morocco in Arnhem today, is likely to announce his intention to leave Ajax after the Dutch cup final on 13 May when his side face Fortuna Sittard.

Van der Sar, a member of the Ajax side which won the European Cup in 1996, was widely quoted in England yesterday as saying he had already been approached by United among others. Lazio, the Italian Serie A leaders, are among the other clubs believed to be interested in him.

Ajax confirmed they expect to discuss Van der Sar's future with the player next month. "We are expecting him to speak to the club and the trainers, and then reach a decision," a spokesman for the Dutch club confirmed.

Ajax say Van der Sar, who is under contract until July 2002, has had talks with the board in the past week or two. If he went he would leave Ajax without a single current Dutch international on their books.