Football: Liverpool set to win the race for Ince

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Liverpool look likely to beat their neighbours, Everton, in the race to sign Paul Ince from Internazionale.

The England midfielder met Liverpool's manager, Roy Evans, yesterday and apparently expressed his preference for a move to Anfield, rather than Goodison Park and in the process he also disappointed Newcastle United. Liverpool have yet to agree a fee with Inter, who had already received a pounds 5m offer from Everton.

Derby's owner and chairman, Lionel Pickering, says it will take pounds 7m to prise Dean Sturridge away from the Premiership club. The 23-year-old striker has shocked the Rams by handing in a written transfer request, as he wants to move on to a bigger club. Last month he broke off negotiations to extend his contract, which has two years to run, and he has been linked with a number of Premiership sides, including Arsenal and Leeds.

Derby have reluctantly accepted his request, but Pickering is determined to get top money for Sturridge. "He's one of the best young strikers around at the moment and we will be looking for a fee of around pounds 7m," he said.

Roy Hodgson, who finally arrived to take up his role as Blackburn's manager after asking his way to Ewood Park, said he was "very close" to finalising a deal understood to be valued at pounds 3m for the Swedish striker Martin Dahlin. Hodgson said: "Negotiations are on-going and we are close to agreeing a sum with Roma for Dahlin."

He also revealed that Blackburn are trying to sign the goalkeeper John Filan from Coventry as a replacement for Shay Given, who has moved to Newcastle.

Hodgson made a start in the transfer market before his arrival at Ewood. He has already brought in the French full-back Patrik Valery, is awaiting a work permit to finalise his acquisition of the Swiss defender Stephane Henchoz and is close to signing the Swedish midfielder Anders Andersson.

Sheffield United have made an official approach to Queen's Park Rangers to try to talk Bruce Rioch into filling the manager's role vacated by Howard Kendall. Rioch, who is working as assistant to Stewart Houston at Loftus Road, will meet the Blades' chairman, Mike McDonald, after putting the move on hold while on holiday.

Rioch fits the bill as the type of experienced manager United are looking for. That requirement appears to rule out Chris Waddle despite his enthusiasm for the job.

Arsenal's Steve Bould is being lined up for a return to his roots with Stoke City. The long serving defender has been offered a contract by the Potteries club where he began his career before leaving for Arsenal nine years ago.

Bould will be allowed to go cheaply to help Stoke put a decent personal package together for him. He could be in line for a testimonial at Highbury if he stays, but Stoke hope he will join them soon. The managerless First Division club are also tying up the signing of the veteran Sunderland striker Paul Stewart as a replacement for Mike Sheron.

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