Football: Gascoigne in fitness race

Paul Gascoigne will embark on a tour of Britain in the next 10 days to try to prove his fitness for England's summer events.

The midfielder will play in Rangers' last game of the season at Hearts tomorrow and then travels to London to face Arsenal in Nigel Winterburn's testimonial on Tuesday. He is also due to appear at Torquay next Friday night in another benefit game as he attempts to show Glenn Hoddle that he is ready for England's friendly against South Africa on 24 May and the World Cup game in Poland. He could also go to France for the four- nation tournament at the start of June.

David Murray, the Rangers chairman, interrupted his club's championship celebrations to again refute suggestions Paul Ince is a transfer target. "There is no truth in these reports whatsoever," Murray said. "What is the point in paying a big fee for a player who is approaching 30 and then forking out high wages as well? In a year's time, Ince will be a free agent and then there might be a deal worth talking about."

Manchester City have sacked three members of their backroom staff, including their former player Colin Bell. The end of season clear-out at Maine Road gathered momentum yesterday when manager Frank Clark announced he was not giving a contract to Dalian Atkinson and said that virtually all the key members of his youth set-up would be leaving the club.

Neil McNab, the youth team coach, was sacked along with the youth development officers Terry Farrell and Bell. The move paves the way for the arrival of City's former captain, Paul Power, as director of the youth academy.

Steve Gritt, the Brighton manager who rescued the club from relegation to the GM Vauxhall Conference, is to stay at the club after five hours of talks with the new chairman, Dick Knight.

Billy Bonds, the former West Ham manager, returned to management yesterday - admitting: "I have taken on one hell of a challenge." Bonds has agreed to become Millwall's third manager in barely three months following the departure of John Docherty last week.

Southampton have completed the signing of Chesterfield's Kevin Davies. The fee for the 20-year-old forward, whose hat-trick sank Bolton Wanderers in the FA Cup, will be decided by a transfer tribunal.

Plans to regionalise the lower reaches of the Football League and bring in Conference clubs were shelved yesterday. After six hours of talks involving most of the 72 Nationwide League clubs, it became clear that there was no chance of the proposals gaining support. David Sheepshanks, the League chairman, said: "We will not be proceeding with regionalisation."

More football, page 29

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