Football: PSV put pounds 15m price tag on Stam

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JAAP STAM, widely regarded as one of the best centre-backs in Europe, could be on his way to Manchester United.

However, if the 25-year-old Dutch international is to join the Old Trafford playing pool, his club, PSV Eindhoven, will have to drop their asking price.

The champions of the Netherlands want pounds 15m for Stam, who is in the first year of a six-year contract. United's chairman, Martin Edwards, said: "We made an inquiry to PSV on Tuesday and let's say there was a difference in valuation."

United have also been linked with Roma's midfielder Francesco Totti, but Edwards denied that they had made an official inquiry.

The Manchester City manager, Joe Royle, has told the former England forward Peter Beardsley that he can return to Bolton Wanderers after his loan spell at Maine Road.

"I thanked Peter for his efforts, but with Georgi Kinkladze fit again we can't play both in the team," Royle said. "I also need to create a loan vacancy for another player, and hope to do something in that direction soon." West Ham's midfield schemer Ian Bishop is on Royle's list and could return on loan for the rest of the season for his second spell at City.

Royle has let the experienced centre-back Paul Beesley join West Bromwich on loan, while the left-back Jason van Blerk is talking to both West Bromwich and Wigan. Albion have also signed the former Liverpool defender Steve Nicol on loan from Sheffield Wednesday.

Lincoln City have formally confirmed the sacking of their manager, John Beck. The announcement came following a board meeting between Beck, who was suspended last week, his legal adviser, and City's board of directors.

"This now clears the way for us to finalise a replacement for John Beck in the very near future," Lincoln's chairman, John Reames, said. "His dismissal follows three very serious breaches of contract which we, as directors, felt left us no alternative course of action."

Stoke City's former Celtic defender, Mark McNally, could be on his way back to Scotland in a pounds 60,000 move to Dundee United.

The Republic of Ireland manager, Mick McCarthy, has included eight uncapped players in his 22-man squad for the friendly against the Czech Republic in Olomouc on 25 March.

The new faces are the defenders Stephen Carr (Tottenham), Alan Maybury (Leeds) and Phil Hardy (Wrexham), the midfielders Graham Kavanagh (Stoke), Mark Kinsella (Charlton) and Rory Delap (Derby), as well as the teenage forwards Robbie Keane (Wolves) and Damien Duff (Blackburn).

Keane and Duff are certain to play at some stage of the game. McCarthy gave this promise as both players could have been in action against Greece in a European Youth Championship qualifier on the same night.