Football: Gregory stays at Villa Park insists Ellis

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The Independent Online
JOHN GREGORY has become the latest manager to be ruled out as a contender to replace Glenn Hoddle as England coach - although it was by his chairman at Aston Villa, Doug Ellis.

Ellis said that Gregory, who will celebrate 12 months in charge at Villa Park this month, has told him he does not want to be considered for the post.

"He is committed to us as we are committed to him and hopefully he will be our manager for many years to come," Ellis said.

Ellis, who sits on the committee that has to appoint a new England coach, added: "Even if they did come, the answer would be 1,000 times `No'."

The French national coach, Roger Lemerre, unsurprisingly refused to become embroiled in Hoddle's sacking yesterday. Lemerre said personal experience had taught him not to take England lightly, managerless or not.

"I know the reason why it has happened but I do not want to comment on it," Lemerre said, after naming a squad for next Wednesday's game at Wembley that includes the Arsenal trio, Nicolas Anelka, Emmanuel Petit and Patrick Vieira, and the Chelsea pair, Franck Lebeouf and Marcel Desailly. "When I played for France against England in 1969, the French national coach had resigned 10 days before the game. We went there with a different coach and we lost 5-0 so I have been through it as a player. It is difficult but England will always be England and this won't change them."

The Professional Footballers' Association has urged managers to attend its "charm school" to avoid another Glenn Hoddle farce.

"Everybody in the game accepts, like it or not, that the manager's job is a public relations role - be it with television, radio or newspapers," the PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor said. "We are looking to introduce the course to more senior professionals and, as all managers are former players, they would be fully entitled to take advantage of the course as well."

The former England striker David Hirst has returned to full training at Southampton and could be playing within three weeks, after recovering from the knee injury which has kept him out all season. Hirst has been out of action since damaging knee ligaments when he fell down a pothole during a training run last summer.

The Saints are giving a week's trial to a Portuguese defender, Nuno Campos. Their manager Dave Jones watched the 23-year-old play for Campomaiorense last weekend.

Sampdoria have welcomed back Luciano Spalletti as David Platt's replacement just over six weeks after sacking him as coach for poor performances.

Neville Southall, who has been playing for Torquay United, is set to sit on the bench for Huddersfield against Derby County in the FA Cup fifth round on 13 February. The 40-year-old goalkeeper has been playing for Torquay while Ken Veysey has been injured. Southall, who is goalkeeping coach at Huddersfield on a non-contract basis, will spend extra time at the Yorkshire club.

The Hearts defender David Weir is set to have talks next week over a move to Liverpool. The Scotland centre-half is out of contract at the end of the season and is unlikely to agree a new deal at Tynecastle.

The Huddersfield manager Peter Jackson hopes to sign the Oxford United striker Dean Windass today. Jackson plans to push through a pounds 800,000 move for Windass, also a target for Leicester, with the money from new owner Barry Ruberry.

The Scottish First Division side Raith Rovers should survive the season after management took a voluntary pay-cut yesterday, and the players decided to forfeit win bonuses until the end of the season.

FRANCE SQUAD (v England, Wembley, 10 February): Barthez (Monaco), Porato (Marseilles); Blanc (Marseilles), Candela (Roma), Desailly, Leboeuf (both Chelsea), Lizarazu (Bayern Munich), Thuram (Parma); Boghossian (Parma), Deschamps, Zidane (both Juventus), Djorkaeff (Internazionale), Petit, Vieira (both Arsenal); Anelka (Arsenal), Dugarry, Pires (both Marseilles), Laslandes (Bordeaux).