Football: Fulham close to completing Hughes deal

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THE FULHAM manager, Paul Bracewell, is trying to rush through the pounds 2m signing of Michael Hughes from Wimbledon in the hope that the Northern Ireland international can make his debut at Blackburn tomorrow.

Hughes has not found a place in the system favoured by Wimbledon's new Norwegian manager, Egil Olsen, who would rather realise the asset and spend them money. Fulham are close to agreeing a price and Hughes will sign if he proves his fitness. The midfielder did not play for several weeks after an operation but has turned out for Wimbledon reserves ahead of his pending departure.

Aston Villa have been told by a Football League appeals committee to make a pounds 50,000 down-payment to Brighton for the midfielder Michael Standing. Villa will also have to pay a further pounds 50,000 for every 10 first-team games the teenager plays up to a maximum of 40. The fee will rise to more than pounds 350,000 if Standing is capped by England.

Stoke City's new Icelandic manager, Gudjon Thordarson, made two of his former charges in the national side his first signings yesterday. The midfielders Sigursteinn Gislason and Einar Thor Danielson arrived on loan from KR Reykjavik, followed by a Swedish right-back, Michael Hansson, on a free transfer from Norrkoping.

Thordarson hopes to make another Icelandic international, Rikhardur Dadason, his first cash recruit, but faces competition for Lillestrom's pounds 350,000-rated striker from Sheffield United.

Coventry City have sent their on-loan goalkeeper Raffaele Nuzzo back to Internazionale following the return to action of Steve Ogrizovic, six months after neck surgery. The 42-year-old is two appearances short of the 600 mark. Nuzzo hopes to secure a spell at another English club.