Football: Redknapp may put Rieper move on hold

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The Independent Online
Marc Rieper's projected pounds 2m move to Celtic could be delayed if the West Ham manager Harry Redknapp decides he needs further reinforcements before the deal can go through.

The 29-year-old Danish defender was expected to make the switch from Upton Park to Parkhead before tomorrow's European signing deadline. With Redknapp securing David Unsworth from Everton on Tuesday in a swap deal with Danny Williamson, it appeared the way was clear to release Rieper - but the Hammers' manager said: "If he goes I'll need to bring in someone else. Unsworth was never meant to replace him. It's still a possibility Marc will go to Celtic."

Redknapp, who has lost Julian Dicks and Richard Hall to injury and Slaven Bilic to Everton, does not want to lose Rieper, but he knows the Dane could leave for nothing at the end of the season.

Rieper is still in the dark. He said: "It's flattering to be linked to Celtic - but I have not spoken to them and the club haven't told me anything."

Crystal Palace have completed the signing of the versatile defender Neil Emblen from Wolves for pounds 2m, subject to a medical. The Bromley-born 26- year-old has signed a four-year contract and is the most expensive player ever to leave Molineux. He said: "I'm delighted to be joining and I'm looking forward to the challenge of playing in the Premier League."

Northern Ireland heard yesterday that their World Cup qualifier with Albania on 10 September will be switched to a neutral venue - but they still do not know where. Football's international governing body, Fifa, said the decision to move the match was taken by the World Cup organising committee because of the unstable political situation in Albania.

The Albanians had to play two of their earlier home matches, against Germany and Ukraine, in Granada, Spain, but no firm decision has yet been made about where the meeting with the Irish will take place. Fifa's action follows reports of disturbances at a domestic match in Albania last weekend.