Football: Rice stays with Gunners

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The Independent Online
PAT RICE, Arsenal's assistant manager, has turned down the chance to become Northern Ireland's national coach. It is understood that Rice, the deputy to Arsene Wenger, was given the choice between a full and part- time role with his country when interviewed last week, but Arsenal would not contemplate any reduction of his duties at Highbury.

Rice, capped 49 times by Northern Ireland, said: "I could never imagine leaving the fabulous job that I have at Highbury, but I told Arsene I had to speak to Northern Ireland because it was an honour and a privilege to be asked."

With Rice now out of the running for the Northern Ireland job the clear favourite is the Macclesfield Town manager, Sammy McIlroy, who has indicated he wants to succeed Lawrie McMenemy. The former Southampton manager resigned in October after 20 months in charge.

The Aston Villa defender, Gareth Southgate, escaped a ban yesterday when he attended a hearing in London to answer a Football Association misconduct charge.

Southgate was sent off by referee Jeff Winter for two bookable offences during Villa's game against Leicester City at Filbert Street in September and faced a misconduct charge over comments made to the official. The England international was fined pounds 5,000 and warned as to his future conduct.

The Georgian international Georgi Kinkladze may not be able to make his Derby County debut against Arsenal on Sunday. The former Manchester City midfielder is still waiting for his work permit to come through.

Huddersfield Town are in negotiations with the Dutch side, Ajax, about the two clubs establishing a formal link. The Terriers' manager Steve Bruce, chairman Ian Ayre, club owner Barry Rubery and football director Trevor Cherry flew to Amsterdam yesterday for discussions.

Huddersfield have a Dutch trio of players on their staff in Dean Gorre, Ken Monkou and Clyde Wijnhard at the McAlpine Stadium and are keen to develop links further.