Football: Gilchrist's pounds 500,000 move to Leicester

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THE LEICESTER CITY manager, Martin O'Neill, has moved swiftly to bolster his defence in the wake of Steve Walsh's groin injury suffered in the 2-1 defeat against Arsenal at Highbury last Saturday. Walsh will be out of action for at least a month and O'Neill has signed Phil Gilchrist from Oxford United for pounds 500,000.

The centre-back will link up again with the Leicester captain, Matt Elliott, with whom he played for two years at the Manor Ground. Gilchrist started his career as a trainee with Nottingham Forest but did not make any senior appearances before moving on to Middlesbrough. Again he failed to break into the first team, but he did get some recognition during a spell with Hartlepool United.

Gilchrist joined Oxford for pounds 100,000 in February 1995 and has played in more than 200 senior games for United. Third Division Hartlepool will land a pounds 125,000 windfall from a sell-on clause.

Elliott is delighted at the prospect of teaming up again with Gilchrist at Filbert Street. "We played together for a couple of years and I enjoyed playing with him," he said. "He is mobile, strong and deserves a Premiership place. In our Oxford days, the then manager, Denis Smith, tried to sell us as a pair but that did not work out in terms of attracting a transfer. Phil has been a bit unlucky because a lot of people at Oxford have come and gone, but now he has made the move he wanted."

O'Neill's interest in another defender, Newcastle United's Nikos Dabizas, is ongoing and he could be signed in time for Saturday's home game against Chelsea.

O'Neill is hopeful that Emile Heskey will be fit to play against Coventry City at Filbert Street tonight. Heskey was stretchered off wearing a neck brace during Leicester's defeat at Highbury, but the England striker has escaped serious injury.

The Coventry City manager, Gordon Strachan, is ready to turn to John Aloisi at the expense of Darren Huckerby, who was replaced by the Australian with 20 minutes remaining of the 1-0 home defeat by Southampton on Saturday.

"There has to be someone around the penalty spot and Aloisi has got that more than Huckerby," said Strachan.

"If Darren has a fault it is that he is all over the place and I don't think he had a shot or a header on target [against Southampton]. I think that sums it up." Strachan has ordered his players to be positive and not let themselves be "bullied" by Leicester.

"We will be going for a win," he vowed. "If you try to play negative you get into a negative frame of mind, then if you concede a goal it is hard to shake off that negativity. To do well against Leicester you have to compete. If you don't they will bully you.

"I mean bully you in a nice way, not a nasty way. They will bully you into submitting to their high tempo of quality football. We have to try to nullify them without taking too much away from our own strengths. It did not surprise me that Leicester ran Arsenal so close on Saturday because they have strength and ability. We have to try to stop their wide men playing. I think Guppy and Impey are very good players."

Coventry were unbeaten at Filbert Street last season. They beat Leicester 3-0 in the FA Cup and forced a goalless draw in the Premiership.

Meanwhile, the Foxes' American goalkeeper Kasey Keller has completed a move to Rayo Vallecano and has signed a two-year contract.

In Scotland, the Dundee United manager, Paul Sturrock, finally got his man when the French defender Jean-Pierre Delaunay moved to Tannadice on a three-month deal. The 33-year-old former Le Havre stalwart had a pre- season trial on Tayside only to suffer an injury in a friendly against Newcastle. He has now returned as Sturrock bids to strengthen his squad.

Sturrock said: "I am delighted to have landed him, especially after the promise he showed during his spell here pre-season."