Football: Ferri across the Mersey for Houllier

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The Independent Online
GeRARD HOULLIER'S first excursion into the transfer market as the sole Liverpool manager was to bring a fellow Frenchman to Merseyside yesterday. Jean-Michel Ferri, a 29-year-old defensive midfielder, became Houllier's first signing when he paid Istanbulspor pounds 1.2m for the uncapped player.

Ferri apparently caught Houllier's eye when he played for Nantes, where he was rated highly, but has failed to settle in Turkey.

Craig Hignett completed a pounds 800,000 move from Aberdeen to Barnsley yesterday, admitting it was the prospect of being reunited with his former Middlesbrough colleague and friend, John Hendrie, that persuaded him to travel south.

After Hignett had agreed a two-and-a-half year contract, he said it would be difficult coming to terms with the fact that Hendrie is now his boss.

"I'm still getting used to calling him `gaffer'," he admitted. "But that doesn't mean I expect any favours from him at this club. If I'm not doing it I expect to get dropped."

Hignett's fee will be part funded by the pounds 450,000 departure of Jan Age Fjortoft, who is in talks with the German side Eintracht Frankfurt.

Paul Warhurst, who has made 24 appearances for Palace since his transfer in the summer of 1997, has joined Bolton Wanderers on a month's loan. Warhurst, 29, has recently admitted that he wishes to move back north after periods at Blackburn and Sheffield Wednesday and his family have already returned.

Frank Lampard, the England Under-21 captain and subject of an pounds 8m offer from Tottenham, has said he will be staying at West Ham, where he believes his ambitions can be fulfilled.

The Hammers have told George Graham that the talented young midfielder is happy to remain at Upton Park, where his father, Frank Snr, is assistant manger to Harry Redknapp.

The West Ham chief executive, Peter Storrie, said: "We did have an offer from Tottenham but we are not interested in selling. They telephoned me and then they telephoned Harry - they were persistent at least. But Harry told them no, and I told them no. He is not for sale."

The 20 year old believes that the east Londoners are capable of qualifying for a European place this season following a promising start to the Premiership season.

He said: "I signed a five-year contract earlier this season which was a commitment from me and my ambition is to play for England while at West Ham. I want to go on and do great things for West Ham United and England - and I think I can fulfil everything I want from football at West Ham.

"Realistically this season we have got to look at Europe as the main aim. We are often classified as a cup team who can beat anyone on their day but we have been striving to get consistency into our game.

"Last season away from home we sometimes became a bit ruffled but we have learnt from that, are more experienced, more together as a team and more confident. We are more solid away from home and if we can keep that going and carry on with our home form we have every chance of being in the top five or six."

Lampard admitted: "I don't think I've played as well as I can do this season but maybe that is because I've had to play a deeper role, with Steve Lomas being out injured for a spell.

"I haven't been able to get forward and make runs into the box, which is my strength. But overall I think I am a much improved player to when I first got into the side at West Ham.

"I was disappointed not to get into the England squad last week but I've played well in the last few games for the Under-21s and it's up to me to keep battling away and hope the chance will come."

Juventus are planning to lobby Uefa, football's European governing body, to have their Champions' League tie against Galatasaray in Istanbul postponed again next week because of their continuing fears over the diplomatic crisis between Italy and Turkey.

The tie, originally scheduled for last night but already called off, has been caught up in the furore over Italy's refusal to extradite the Kurdish rebel leader, Abdullah Ocalan, who is wanted in Turkey on treason and terrorism charges. It has been postponed until 2 December because of the current wave of anti-Italian feeling in Turkey. The club feared both players and supporters would be at risk if they travelled to Istanbul.

Coventry City's teenage striker, Laurent Delorge, woke up yesterday facing the prospect of a lengthy lay-off. The 19-year-old Delorge, who has yet to play for the first team, broke his left leg in an innocuous challenge with the former Coventry player, David Smith, in a reserve match with Grimsby at Highfield Road on Tuesday.

The Brazil coach, Wanderley Luxemburgo, has been handed a 60-day suspension by the country's disciplinary tribunal of sport for bursting into a referee's changing room and verbally abusing him.