Football: Fjortoft fits the bill for Barnsley

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The Independent Online
The Barnsley manager Danny Wilson signed the Norwegian international Jan Age Fjortoft from Sheffield United yesterday - after initial fears the deal was dead due to Brian Deane's pounds 1m departure to Benfica.

Wilson moved in for Fjortoft yesterday after watching him play for the Blades in Tuesday's FA Cup third-round replay at Bury, but when the Benfica coach, Graeme Souness, moved in to secure Deane the deal seemed in jeopardy.

United's chief executive, Charles Green, had said the club would not contemplate selling two strikers. But, in a change of policy which leaves United with just two senior forwards on their books in Dean Saunders and Gareth Taylor, the Blades have decided to part with both players.

Like Deane, Fjortoft has signed a two-and-a-half year deal with his new club, with Barnsley paying pounds 800,000. The Oakwell chairman, John Dennis, believes the former Swindon and Middlesbrough striker is a much-needed addition to the squad, particularly with the pounds 1.5m club record signing, the Macedonian international Georgi Hristov, having failed to score consistently since his summer arrival. "Danny has been looking for someone who can regularly score goals and Jan fits the bill," Dennis said.

Deane, who passed his medical yesterday, has agreed a deal believed to be worth pounds 20,000 per week - wages which the Blades revealed were "impossible to match". United have been forced to cash in as Deane would have been out of contract in the summer and available to leave the club on a free transfer under the Bosman ruling.

Andy Hinchcliffe's pounds 3.2m move from Everton to Tottenham was called off because of problems caused by an old cruciate ligament injury. The England left-back has been told that Spurs do not believe he will be fully fit for about three months.

In a confidential letter to Everton, the White Hart Lane club explained that their medical checks revealed Hinchcliffe's thigh muscle was weakened as a result of the cruciate injury. He was out for nine months with cruciate ligament damage sustained in December 1996, and during his rehabilitation the thigh muscle on the leg was impaired.

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