Football: Leicester in ballot for Uefa Cup

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LEICESTER CITY and Kilmarnock are on the brink of qualifying for next season's Uefa Cup, thanks to their enviable disciplinary records.

Leicester are on track after pipping Sheffield Wednesday in England's Fair Play League, while Kilmarnock, who were confirmed yesterday as Scotland's winners, will find out on 1 June whether Scotland have retained their No 1 ranking in the Uefa's table. If so, they are in the Uefa Cup.

Martin O'Neill's side go into a ballot for a Uefa Cup place to be held next week. Wednesday seemed assured of claiming second place in the table behind the winners, Manchester United, with Alex Ferguson's side already guaranteed a place in Europe. The Hillsborough team came in for some criticism over the closing weeks of the season, with the players accused in some quarters of ducking out of tackles. But, on the last day of the season, their captain Peter Atherton was sent off and two others were booked in the 1-0 win at Charlton Athletic.

The Wednesday manager, Danny Wilson, is launching a pounds 5m bid to sign Leicester City's midfield general Neil Lennon.

Wilson wants Lennon as his major summer capture, and hopes Leicester will sell the Northern Ireland international because his contract is entering its last year.

Blackburn Rovers have opened the bidding for their England players, Chris Sutton and Tim Flowers. Both have told the relegated club they want to leave, and Rovers are prepared to listen to any offers.

It is believed Sutton's escape clause from his contract only comes into force if Blackburn receive a bid of more than pounds 10m. Flowers, 32, would cost around pounds 2m. Rovers' manager Brian Kidd, meanwhile, wants to make Steve Harkness his first signing of the summer. Kidd hopes to tie up a pounds 750,000 deal for the former Liverpool defender, who is keen to return from a short spell at the Portuguese club Benfica.

The Brazilian midfielder Emerson may be rejoining Middlesbrough. It is understood that a pounds 3m deal to take the 27-year-old, now with Tenerife, back to the Riverside Stadium is being mooted. Although a club spokesman Dave Allan said the move was "speculation at the moment", the Boro manager Bryan Robson has admitted he has inquired about the temperamental Brazilian.

The Liverpool defender Steve Staunton is out of the Republic of Ireland squad for Saturday's Dublin friendly against Northern Ireland, due to a hamstring injury. The Manchester City goalkeeper Tommy Wright and the Norwich midfielder Phil Mulryne have withdrawn from the Northern Ireland squad, and will be replaced by Roy Carroll of Wigan and Danny Griffin of St Johnstone.

Charlton have bought the Bury goalkeeper Dean Kiely, a Republic of Ireland squad member, for pounds 1m.

The Celtic midfielder Craig Burley will not require surgery to repair knee ligament damage, but he definitely ruled out of Saturday's Scottish Cup final against Rangers. A scan has shown that the Scotland international suffered torn medial ligaments at Dundee United on Sunday, when he went down without challenge after seeming to catch his studs in the turf.

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