Football: Rangers ready to swap Hendry for Carbone

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The Independent Online
SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY are offering their Italian enigma Benito Carbone to Rangers in an exchange move for the out of favour Scotland captain, Colin Hendry.

Talks between the clubs are at an advanced stage. Carbone could be on his way to Rangers after Wednesday's manager, Danny Wilson, decided to sell him following a series of disputes at Hillsborough.

The skilful striker, rated at pounds 1.5m, has just turned down a move to Derby County. He can leave for nothing in the summer and may go back to Italy.

However, Carbone could be keen on joining Rangers immediately - he would be eligible to play in Europe later in the season. He is being frozen out at Wednesday, going on strike when he was dropped a few weeks ago. Wilson has questioned his commitment.

Wednesday want Hendry immediately. They are leaking goals alarmingly and could do with a leader in their relegation battle. The former Blackburn defender is unhappy at Rangers, where he is spending most games sitting on the bench. There is also interest in him from West Ham, but they may not be able to afford him.

Rangers are, however, facing competition for Carbone from Tottenham Hotspur. The London club's director of football David Pleat, who initially signed Carbone for Wednesday from Internazionale for pounds 3m three years ago, yesterday said: "We can confirm an enquiry has been made regarding the availability of Carbone.

"We are led to believe that other clubs have also made enquiries, and further discussions will be required." Wednesday are desperate to recoup a fee for the player who is available for nothing in the new year - Carbone can sign a pre-contract agreement prior to walking out of Hillsborough at the end of his contract next summer. The Sheffield club's secretary, Alan Sykes, has confirmed that there had been "interest from two other clubs" following the breakdown in negotiations with Derby.

Liverpool have delayed a decision on whether their striker Robbie Fowler requires surgery that could put him out for six weeks.

The Merseyside club's manager, Gerard Houllier, discussed Fowler's ankle problem with his medical staff yesterday and it was decided that the England player, who limped out of Monday's derby defeat by Everton in obvious discomfort after 64 minutes, should continue with intensive treatment until the end of the week.

Liverpool are desperate not to be forced into a decision that will rob them of Fowler's talents until late November. That would also mean Fowler missing England's friendly with Belgium at Sunderland next month plus any potential Euro 2000 play-off game for his country - if Sweden beat Poland in 10 days' time England would be scheduled to play in a two-legged qualifier on 13 and 17 November.

Houllier said: "Surgery is the worse case scenario and we hope it will not come to that." Fowler played in England's draw in Poland earlier this month and has struggled for fitness ever since. The problem became so bad at Leicester on 18 September that he could barely walk at the team hotel on the morning of the match and had to be replaced in the side by Michael Owen.

The former Liverpool Steve McManaman could also miss England's encounter with Belgium after limping out of Real Madrid's 3-1 Champions' League win over Porto on Tuesday with a groin strain.

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