Football: Phelan raises City's stock

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The Independent Online
WIMBLEDON received a second pounds 2.5m cheque from Manchester City yesterday. Terry Phelan, the much admired Republic of Ireland left-back, left Selhurst Park for Maine Road to team up with Keith Curle, another pacey back-four player, who moved from the Dons a year ago. The pair are Britain's most expensive defenders.

Phelan's desire to return to his home town ('I would have been heartbroken if I had had to go elsewhere,' he said) was almost ended last week when City withdrew from the chase after their initial offer of pounds 1.5m was rejected. Crystal Palace agreed to meet Wimbledon's asking price, but City returned with an extra pounds 1m, and Phelan, born in Salford and married to a Mancunian, needed little persuading to agree a five-year contract.

Wimbledon were sorry to lose a talented international, but the club with the sell to survive policy will be left with a pounds 2.4m profit on a player who arrived at Plough Lane in 1987. 'We set out to get a certain sum and we have done it,' Joe Kinnear, the Dons manager, said. 'It's good business for the club.'

Phelan, who supported United as a child, becomes easily the most expensive full-back in British football. 'We paid more for Phelan than we would have liked,' Peter Reid, City's player-manager, said, 'but quality costs money and I believe this boy is top class. He is as quick as lightning and having a player like him at the club can only improve our chances of making an impact on the Premier League this season.' Reid's chairman, Peter Swales, said: 'We wanted to make it clear to our supporters that we mean business and that involves bringing the best players available to Maine Road, whatever the cost.' City are currently second from bottom - above Wimbledon.

Phelan was yesterday included in the Irish squad for next month's World Cup qualifier against Latvia in Dublin. Kevin Moran, the 36-year-old Blackburn Rovers centre-half, has been dropped with his Middlesbrough counterpart, Alan Kernaghan, stepping up.

Another international left-back, Stuart Pearce, of Nottingham Forest and England, has had his request for a pay rise turned down by the City Ground club, a situation that has reawoken the interest of Manchester United and the Milan club, Internazionale.

Everton are close to signing the Yugoslav international, Pedrag Radosavjevic, who is known as Preki, after the left-sided midfielder impressed them in a pre- season tour of Germany. Preki rejoined Everton yesterday and Howard Kendall, the Goodison manager, has agreed a fee with his former club in the now-defunct American Indoor League.

Irish squad, Sport in Short, page 27

Chester's revival, page 26

----------------------------------------------------------------- TABLE: MOST EXPENSIVE DEFENDERS ----------------------------------------------------------------- Player From To Fee Terry Phelan Wimbledon Man City pounds 2.5m Keith Curle Wimbledon Man City pounds 2.5m Gary Pallister Middlesbro' Man Utd pounds 2.3m Mark Wright Derby Liverpool pounds 2.2m Paul Parker QPR Man Utd pounds 2.0m Earl Barrett Oldham Aston Villa pounds 1.7m Richard Gough Tottenham Rangers pounds 1.5m -----------------------------------------------------------------