Football: `I'm not guilty' insists Shearer

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ALAN SHEARER maintained his innocence yesterday as he spoke for the first time of Saturday's sending-off against Aston Villa.

Shearer, playing in his 100th game for the Magpies, was dismissed by referee Uriah Rennie for a 71st-minute challenge on Colin Calderwood after being booked for an earlier foul on the same player.

The England captain said: "I challenge anyone to watch on television the incident which got me sent off from any angle and at any speed and if, after total scrutiny, there is the slightest foul then I will accept the decision without further comment.

"If, however, it is proven beyond all doubt that no foul was committed then I would hope that something could be done."

Sir Alex Ferguson believes Manchester United will have to break their wage structure if they are to maintain their dominance of the English game.

Ferguson's warning comes as United attempt to reach a compromise with his captain Roy Keane over a new contract. Speaking on BBC's Breakfast with Frost, he warned his club will have to change with the times.

"They are bound to," he said. "They are going to have to change because life changes. "I remember when we signed Neil Webb [in 1989], for instance. The salary he was looking for was almost double what any of our players were earning at the time. I thought `what's going on here?' I didn't know what we were going to do because I never expected this kind of salary. But, going on the back of that season, we had several players on that salary."

He added: "What we are seeing at the moment is something extraordinarily high now. Looking at one or two players abroad, the salaries are unbelievable.

"Everyone talks net, whereas we need to talk gross - but about pounds 2.5m net [per year]. Someone was talking about a recent transfer in Italy where the player is getting pounds 3m. You say to yourself `deary me!' "

Keane is likely to be put up for sale this week if United fail to strike an agreement with the midfielder. The player's lawyer, Michael Kennedy, said: "Roy is giving serious consideration to his position. I expect him to deliver a decision by Monday or Tuesday."

United's chairman Martin Edwards is anxious to bring talks to a speedy conclusion and said last week: "Clearly we would like to wrap it all up now. If we can't then negotiations will drag on into the New Year. We want to keep Roy Keane and we will do everything we can to try to keep him.

"We either will or we won't. These are negotiations and he's got to be happy with what he wants and we've got to be happy with what we are prepared to pay him. We will either resolve it or we won't."

Everton are to give a trial to the French defender Philippe Brinquin, who plays for the First Division side Rennes. The 28-year-old, who was placed on the transfer list last week, joined Rennes from Lorient in 1997. He has played 47 top-flight matches in France.

Derby County's manager Jim Smith is trying to sign Lee Morris from Sheffield United, despite the player's broken foot. Smith plans to rush through a deal for the England Under-21 forward and hopes to agree a fee of around pounds 2.5m and a personal package this week.