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Football: Robson hits out at FA probe

THE MIDDLESBROUGH manager Bryan Robson has hit out over a Football Association probe into comments made by Paul Ince after his acrimonious split with Liverpool.

The former England captain has been asked to attend a meeting with FA officials to explain his outburst at the Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier and his assistant Phil Thompson. But Robson said: "It's absolute nonsense. I don't see what business it is of the FA when this is just a personal opinion. I don't have a problem with what Paul said. It's just his personal thoughts. What I do find disturbing is that the FA did not take action when somebody recently said they wanted to shoot a player."

Ince was aggrieved at his treatment by Liverpool after being told his services were no longer required at Anfield. Ironically, he will run out against his former team-mates at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday.

Robson, however, will have to do without the services of his 26-year- old defender, Dean Gordon, who looks set to miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery to repair a snapped cruciate ligament.

Robbie Keane yesterday became Britain's most expensive teenager when he joined Coventry City from Wolves for nearly pounds 6m. Keane, 19, has signed a five-year contract at Highfield Road after the Sky Blues beat off competition from Aston Villa and Middlesbrough.

Brian Kidd has signed Robbie Blake for pounds 2.6m. The Bradford City striker takes his spending to pounds 25m on 12 players in nine months. Blake becomes the fourth forward signed by Kidd as he rebuilds the Rovers squad. Blake's wage packet will be around eight times his old Bradford salary.

The Bradford chairman, Geoffrey Richmond, was talked down from the original pounds 5m asking price, despite the fact that Blake's former club, Darlington, will collect a pounds 230,000 windfall from a sell-on clause in the deal.

Sol Campbell faces a fitness race for England's two crucial Euro 2000 qualifiers against Luxembourg and Poland early next month.

The Tottenham centre-back has been ruled out of the Premiership trip to Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday with the damaged calf muscle he picked up at West Ham. But time is running out for Campbell, after Tottenham's visit to Chelsea in midweek was postponed because of the Stamford Bridge club's Champions' League qualifier against Skonto Riga in Latvia.

"Sol won't be involved again this weekend and his target now is our home game against Leeds on 28 August, but even then he could be short for England," said the Spurs manager George Graham.

Kevin Keegan names his squad next Thursday for the two qualifiers on 4 September at Wembley and 8 September in Warsaw and is certain to be without the Arsenal central- defender Tony Adams, who has yet to figure for the Gunners this season after a double hernia operation in July.

Arsenal's midfielder Emmanuel Petit, injured against Sunderland last week, will miss France's Euro 2000 Group Four qualifier against Ukraine in Kiev on 4 September.

n Richard Scudamore has been offered the post of chief executive of the Premier League. Scudamore is currently chief executive of the Football League. He would succeed Peter Leaver, who departed following the row over the appointment of two former BSkyB executives as Premier League negotiators.