Football: Hodgson plans ahead

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The Independent Online
By Clive White

ROY HODGSON has signalled his intention to compete with the leading clubs next season after smashing Blackburn's transfer record to land Kevin Davies from Southampton for pounds 7.5m - just 12 months after arriving at The Dell in a pounds 700,000 transfer from Chesterfield.

The Saints turned down an initial approach from Hodgson, but they found his next offer too good to refuse. The fee eclipses the pounds 5m Rovers paid Norwich for Chris Sutton in July 1994. Hodgson, who turned to Davies after attempts to sign several Serie A targets failed, is willing to invest around pounds 15m in the England Under-21 international and he will reportedly sign a seven-year contract worth pounds 20,000-a-week.

Mark Hughes is hoping Chelsea player-manager Gianluca Vialli keeps his promise of giving him a free transfer following the arrival of pounds 5.4m club record signing Pierluigi Casiraghi.

Hughes has a year left on his contract so Vialli could still ask for a fee for the 34-year-old Welsh international.

Brian Little is ready to make Sheffield United right back Chris Short his first signing for Stoke City while Ian Brightwell - freed by Manchester City - is set to sign for Port Vale.

Manchester United have joined Aston Villa, Leeds and Everton in the race to sign Alan Thompson from Bolton for pounds 3.5m. The stylish midfielder hopes to be able to pick his next move if the clubs can agree a fee.