Football: Harford the target for Newcastle

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KENNY DALGLISH wants Ray Harford to join him at Newcastle United in a repeat of their title-winning double act at Blackburn Rovers.

Harford is insecure at Queen's Park Rangers, where he has had an unhappy managerial reign since joining them from West Bromwich Albion. He has little money to spend, despite selling Nigel Quashie to Nottingham Forest for pounds 2.5m.

Dalglish is keen for Harford to be reunited with him at Newcastle and add his knowledge to their coaching team - they had a successful partnership at Blackburn, where they won the Premiership. However, the move has been delayed because QPR want compensation for Harford - despite his patchy performance.

Alan Ball has re-signed the winger he once described as "the most exciting player in English football". The Portsmouth manager gave Martin Phillips that accolade when he took him with him from Exeter to Manchester City for pounds 500,000 in November, 1995. Yesterday the 22-year-old moved to Fratton Park from Maine Road for a nominal fee.

The Leeds United midfielder, Andy Gray, is set to join Nottingham Forest, who have agreed a fee of pounds 200,000 for the Scottish Under-21 international. His father, Frank, also played for Leeds and Forest.

The Notts County manager, Sam Allardyce, has invited Dennis Booth to become his assistant, following Mark Smith's departure to join the Barnsley coaching staff. Booth is currently the reserve-team coach at Walsall.

Fifa, world football's ruling body, has told the eight nations taking part in the Confederations Cup this winter that they do not have to pick their strongest squads for the tournament. This may defuse a potential row between the world champions, France, and Arsenal and Chelsea.

Arsenal's Emmanuel Petit, Patrick Vieira and Nicolas Anelka and Chelsea's Marcel Desailly and Franck Lebouef could all be called up by France to go to Mexico for the event in mid-January. But now that Fifa has given Roger Lemerre, the new French national coach, clearance to try out some fringe players, a club v country row may now be averted.

The other seven nations involved in the Confederations Cup are the United States, Brazil, Bolivia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Australia and the hosts, Mexico.

Nigeria have appointed the Dutchman, Thijs Libregts, as their national coach. He has coached the Dutch national side and Greece's Olympiakos.

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