Football: Oxford lose Magilton to Southampton: Manor Ground's match-winning international midfield player moves to Premiership strugglers

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The Independent Online
ONE OF the greatest weeks in Oxford United's history ended in depression last night when Jim Magilton, whose midweek goal knocked Leeds United out of the FA Cup, was sold to Southampton for pounds 600,000. The Manor Ground switchboard was immediately inundated with calls from indignant supporters.

The 24-year-old midfielder, an experienced Northern Ireland international, had been looking to step up to the Premiership and needed little persuading when he met Alan Ball, the Southampton manager, on Thursday night, 24 hours after his Elland Road heroics.

'The three years I spent at Oxford were very much a learning process,' Magilton said. 'It was not an easy decision to leave after the Cup win. But I desperately wanted to play in the Premier League.'

Denis Smith, whose Oxford side face a difficult First Division game against Charlton Athletic today, said that the Belfast-born player had refused to renew his contract. 'The offer came at an unfortunate time but it is no good keeping a disillusioned player,' Smith said.

'If I could decide on when a player leaves I would have kept Jim as long as we were in the Cup, but Southampton could have lost interest and looked elsewhere for a new player.'

Three key Manchester United players - Paul Ince, Steve Bruce and Peter Schmeichel - appear close to agreeing new deals keeping them at Old Trafford. Ince said he was 'ready to sign' a six-year contract, worth in the region of pounds 2.8m, while a three-year offer culminating in a testimonial is on the table for Bruce. Schmeichel has requested an early meeting with the United chairman, Martin Edwards, to discuss his demands.

Barry Fry, having taken his total of signings in two months at manager of Birmingham City to 12 with the pounds 75,000 purchase of Liam Daish from Cambridge United, yesterday recouped pounds 50,000 by selling another centre-back, Darren Rogers, to Lincoln. Jose Domingues, a 20-year-old Benfica winger, has arrived at St Andrew's for a trial which could lead to his becoming the first Portuguese player to appear in the Football League.

Pele described England's international team as 'a mess' in yesterday's edition of the Brazilian paper, O Globo, adding that Sweden were the best side in Europe. It was not all gloom for England: Pele described Bobby Charlton as a better player than him.

Team news, Football diary, page 24