Football: Houllier poised to offload Ince

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WHEN Roy Evans departed Anfield and left Gerard Houllier in sole charge it was clear changes were afoot, and yesterday the indication was that the Frenchman ready to make serious moves in the transfer market, starting with Paul Ince.

Ince, the club captain and England international, looks set to be the surprise casualty when Houllier begins reshaping his side, possibly after tonight if Liverpool go out of Europe against Celta Vigo.

Ince has been linked with Tottenham - and Houllier might accept a bid of around pounds 5m. Meanwhile, should his midfield partner Steve McManaman leave when his contract runs out at the end of the season, his replacement is likely to be Croatia Zagreb's pounds 3m-rated wide man, Silvio Maric.

It emerged last night that Liverpool are also chasing two highly- rated continental defenders. Dynamo Kiev's Olexander Holovko and Cameroon's World Cup defender Rigobert Song are both heading for Merseyside.

The 26-year-old Holovko, who played a starring role against Arsenal in the Champions' League, is expected to undergo a medical at Anfield later this month and take part in training sessions while the 22-year-old Song and his agent will travel to England this week for talks, according to officials at his Italian Serie A club, Salernitana.

Brian Kidd, the new Blackburn Rovers manager, has also started ringing the changes by terminating the contract of first team coach Derek Fazackerley. Fazackerley, a long-term Rovers servant, holds the record for the most appearances for Blackburn, having made 674 appearances for the Lancashire club before moving onto the coaching team.

Roy Hodgson, Kidd's predecessor at Ewood Park, is ready to jump back into management as the new coach of VfB Stuttgart. He is in talks with the German Bundesliga club just a fortnight after being sacked.

Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, is set to sign a new four-year contract, after months of apparent prevaricating. "There was never any doubt, because I had given my word long ago," the Frenchman said.

Arsenal signed Nir Berkovic yesterday - the 16-year-old brother of West Ham's Eyal - from Maccabi Haifa. The midfielder will join the Gunners' youth squad next month and live with his older brother in London before returning to serve in the army.

The Portsmouth manager, Alan Ball, was last night rumoured to be on the verge of quitting the club in protest over the chairman Martin Gregory's decision to put the entire first team up for sale in an effort to pay off mounting debts.

The players, meanwhile, issued a statement pledging to "stay and fight for the future of this great football club".

Gregory should today decide whether to accept a pounds 5m offer for Portsmouth from the rock singer Brian Howe.

Sheffield United have agreed to sell the 34-year-old Welsh international striker Dean Saunders to Benfica for pounds 500,000.

Chelsea's Dennis Wise has been banned for three matches following his dismissal at Everton on Saturday. .

And the Tottenham striker Steffen Iversen will be out for at least six weeks after breaking his jaw in a collision with the goalkeeper David James during Spurs' 2-1 win over Liverpool on Saturday.

Wembley officials have admitted for the first time they will be forced to tear down the twin towers. "The towers will have to go because the entire stadium will need widening," Wembley Stadium's vice-chairman, Jarvis Astaire, said. "But I believe replicas will be built."

Last night's football, page 27