Football: Hodgson takes a tough line with Sherwood

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THE BLACKBURN Rovers manager, Roy Hodgson, cracked down on captain Tim Sherwood yesterday by dropping him - and telling him he will not get a pay rise.

Hodgson took the bold step of leaving out Sherwood from tonight's clash with Spurs, the club who have twice tried to buy him in the last week. Sherwood is replaced by Billy McKinlay, with Chris Sutton taking the captain's arm-band.

"Because of Tottenham's unwanted interest I have had to take him out of the team," Hodgson said. "Spurs have been told twice, both verbally and in writing that the player is not for sale. The player's agent continues to make noises and unsettle him, so much so that I have to leave him out. Tim is not in the right frame of mind, he is very tempted by the supposed offer from Tottenham and by the possibility of returning to his native north London.

"Tottenham's interest in him has destabilised our club. Tim signed a new four-year contract just seven months ago."

Hodgson revealed that Sherwood had asked Blackburn for a new deal - on the same money that Tottenham are ready to pay to him - but that the suggestion had been thrown out by Blackburn's owner, Jack Walker.

He said: "Both Jack Walker and I see a defection from Tim Sherwood as being a definite negative. We've told him in no uncertain terms that he's not for sale but it has not resolved the situation. He obviously does not believe that is the case and that his contract should be improved."

However, Hodgson is also prepared to sell Sherwood if the problem carries on as he feels an unhappy player would disrupt a delicate harmony at the club where several big names have left over the last year.

He is putting team spirit first and said: "I don't want to leave myself open to any charges that a player is playing whose heart and head is elsewhere. The only way I can justify leaving a McKinlay or Flitcroft out of the team is when I know that the 11 who are playing are blue and white through and through."

Hodgson has shown in the past that he will part with unhappy men - although in Sherwood's case he is willing to let him stay if he forgets about Spurs. "Hopefully this situation will be resolved, even by Saturday, as I look forward to working with Tim. I respect and admire him," he said.

"We will need definitely him if we are going to do well in both the Championship and in Europe."