Football: Pearce to quit as manager

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The Independent Online
Stuart Pearce is set to resign as manager of relegated Nottingham Forest today after just five months in charge and hand over to Dave Bassett.

However, the indications are that Pearce will again focus purely on his playing career and give the task of trying to get Forest back into the Premiership to the experienced Bassett, who moved to the City Ground as general manager from Crystal Palace.

Fabrizio Ravanelli may return to action this weekend to help Middlesbrough's fight for Premiership survival. The Italian was carried off on a stretcher during his side's draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford on Monday and it was thought the injury was a torn hamstring which would have ruled him out for the rest of the season - including the FA Cup final against Chelsea.

A hospital scan has revealed the injury was not as serious as expected and Ravanelli, who has scored 31 goals so far this season, will miss the match at Blackburn tonight but could be back in action against Leeds at Elland Road on Sunday.

Bryan Robson, the Middlesbrough manager, said: "Ravanelli wrenched his back somehow and got spasms down his leg. He has a chance of playing in our final League game."

Tonight, the instinct for survival will take over from the hype surrounding the delayed visit to Ewood Park. Boro had three points deducted for failing to fulfil the fixture in December when they unilaterally called off the game at 24 hours' notice when the squad was hit by injuries, illness and suspension.

Now, in the final week of the season, the Teessiders find themselves four points adrift of fourth-bottom Sunderland and needing to win at both Blackburn and Leeds to ensure Premiership safety.

Blackburn also need three points to make sure that they are not facing the drop themselves when they entertain Leicester on Sunday.

Both teams have problems up front, with Chris Sutton and Per Pedersen both doubtful for Rovers with hamstring strains. That could mean Graham Fenton, who has yet to score a Premiership goal this season, could partner Kevin Gallacher. Boro may be without Ravanelli, but Mikkel Beck makes a return after recovering from flu.

Southampton are on the brink of completing the signing of the 20-year- old Chesterfield striker, Kevin Davies, after having a bid for about pounds 1m turned down while the Derbyshire side were still on their FA Cup run.

Slaven Bilic will leave Upton Park to sign for Everton for pounds 4.5m next week. West Ham's Croatian centre-back is due to finalise the move on Tuesday. Everton had tried to sign Bilic before the transfer deadline, but he chose to stay and help West Ham avoid relegation.

Following his caution in Monday's defeat by Motherwell, Rangers' Paul Gascoigne has received a three-match suspension which will keep him out of the first three domestic matches of next season after exceeding the penalty points limit.

Ian Wright, the Arsenal striker, is in trouble yet again with the Football Association. He was yesterday cited following complaints that he made derisive gestures to Coventry fans after converting a first-half penalty in the 1-1 draw last month. Wright is also accused of barging into a Coventry steward at the end of the match.