Football: Kendall wants Kinky

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The Independent Online
By Andrew Martin

NO SOONER had the former Everton manager Joe Royle announced that he would be prepared to part with the prime playing talent at his new club, Manchester City, than the present incumbent at Goodison Park was declaring an interest in signing Georgi Kinkladze.

Howard Kendall has confirmed he is still keen to sign the little Georgian midfielder and Royle may be prepared to sell to help the First Division club in their relegation battle.

Royle's predecessor at City, Frank Clark, rebuffed an earlier approach from Kendall. "Their position was that they wanted to hang on to what they regard as their prized asset and an outstanding individual player," Kendall said on Clubcall.

"Frank did say at the time that he was not for sale and that was good enough for me. Should the situation change and I have not changed my opinion of the player, then I would be interested."

Kendall, who denied reports that he has offered City a player-exchange deal, has money to spend following the sales of Andy Hinchcliffe and Gary Speed.

Kendall's immediate concern, however, will be tonight's Merseyside derby and the contribution of Duncan Ferguson, currently in inspirational form for Everton. The towering Scot has scored five goals in seven games since he was made captain and is expected to play a crucial role at Anfield before starting a three-match suspension.

Ferguson's bullish performance proved critical in winning the match for Everton when the two sides met in the Premiership in October. His aerial threat exposed a weakness in the Liverpool defence on that occasion, which may be exploited today since Liverpool are missing the injured defenders Jason McAteer, Dominic Matteo and Phil Babb.

Roy Evans, the Liverpool manager, is confident his side can contain the lanky striker, however. "Duncan is strong in the air and a powerful player to contend with on his day," he said. "I believe, however, that a good team effort can handle him, but we know he'll be up for it."

The referee Paul Durkin has said he will not be reporting Paul Ince to the Football Association after the Liverpool midfielder was alleged to have confronted the official in the tunnel after Liverpool's midweek Coca-Cola Cup exit at Middlesbrough.

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