Football: Redknapp rules out return of Ince

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The Independent Online
WEST HAM will not enter the bidding for Paul Ince for fear of a fans' rebellion. The Hammers' manager, Harry Redknapp, believes that too many bridges have burned between Ince and the supporters since he originally left the club in 1989. The Liverpool and England midfielder was photographed in a Manchester United shirt before he moved to Old Trafford, incensing the Upton Park fans, who have berated him ever since.

Liverpool have made it clear that the 31-year-old England international has no future at Anfield but, despite reports linking him with West Ham, Redknapp moved to clear up any confusion. "No inquiry has been made, or will be made, by West Ham for Ince," he said. "There is no way that we would consider bringing him to the club. He is someone that we would never consider as a player.

"He is a great player for that type of potential transfer fee, believed to be about pounds 1m," Redknapp added. "But, although his wages are also a problem, the main reason we would not sign him is that the club are concerned about his popularity with the supporters."

It was also confirmed that the Cameroon midfielder Marc-Vivien Foe will not be heading from West Ham to Anfield, after Liverpool pulled out of a reported pounds 4.6m deal.

Foe failed to agree personal terms with the Merseyside club after 48 hours of negotiations. "He now comes back here and we have to get him in the right frame of mind to play for West Ham as we would like to keep him," West Ham's secretary, Graham Mackrell, said.

West Ham have also had a pounds 2.5m bid for Paulo Wanchope rejected by Derby. Redknapp has been told by Jim Smith, the County manager, that his offer for the Costa Rican striker was "inadequate". The deal is not dead, though. "It won't happen at the moment because of the valuation, but we are not very far away, and I think it will happen," Smith added.

At Anfield, the Liverpool manager, Gerard Houllier, introduced his six summer buys yesterday. Flanked by Stephane Henchoz, Sander Westerveld, Vladimir Smicer, Titi Camara, Sami Hyypia and Erik Meijer, the Frenchman defended his lack of activity in the domestic transfer market by saying: "I said a year ago I would rather make British signings, and we have made some significant bids for players.

"But they were either rejected, or the players were not for sale, or they were put up for sale at a crazy price."

Houllier admitted that his move for Foe had fallen through, and his next target may be the Arsenal squad man Stephen Hughes, who is valued at around pounds 3.5m.

Even if Hughes does not move to Anfield, Houllier's next target will be a midfielder. "I hope we can have another signing to replace Paul Ince," the Frenchman said. "We might have another signing because we may need somebody to fill in, though we do have younger players who can do that. But Paul won't be a member of the squad next season."

Bridges stalemate, page 27