Football: Houllier sends scouts to assess Georgatos

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The Independent Online
THE LIVERPOOL manager Gerard Houllier is pursuing the Greek international Grigorios Georgatos as a replacement for Steve McManaman.

Houllier sent his assistant, Phil Thompson, and chief scout Ron Yeats to watch the Olympiakos player on international duty against Norway at the weekend. Georgatos can operate as a winger, a full-back or a wing- back and is priced at around pounds 3.5m because of interest in Italy. The 26-year-old was one of the key figures in his club's run to the quarter- finals of the Champions' League, and Juventus were showing an interest before Marcello Lippi resigned as coach.

Georgatos's price tag is not much dearer than Crewe's Seth Johnson, the England Under-21 midfielder who is another Anfield target. Johnson is joining Liverpool for training before the end of the season.

John Gregory has told Paul Merson that Aston Villa will do all they can to help him with his personal problems as long as the England player remains committed to the club. The manager said: "As with any player we will support him if he needs help. However, he needs to support us on the pitch as well."

The England winger Jason Wilcox has committed his long-term future to Blackburn Rovers. Wilcox, a one club man, has signed a new five-year contract which will keep him at Ewood Park until the summer of 2004. The young defender Martin Taylor has also agreed a new five-year contract.

Jordi Cruyff is returning to Manchester United. The Dutchman has been on loan to Celta Vigo since January and feared his United days could be over, but Alex Ferguson has told him he wants to see him back for the start of next season.

One of the first women to be appointed managing director of a Football League club resigned yesterday after five years in the job. Gill Bridge, appointed as managing director at Blackpool in 1994, resigned after Karl Oyston, the son of the jailed former chairman, Owen Oyston, took over as acting chairman earlier this year and after the previous chair - Owen's wife Vicky - took a back seat at the club.