Football: Rocastle ponders move to Derby

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The Independent Online
PAUL STEWART and David Rocastle, two of last summer's pounds 2m men, are in line for cut-price moves before the start of the new season on Saturday.

Stewart, who cost Liverpool pounds 2.3m from Tottenham a year ago, is close to a return to Manchester City, who sold him to Spurs for pounds 1.7m in 1988. The stumbling block is Liverpool's valuation of pounds 1.8m, with City reluctant to go beyond pounds 1.5m for the converted midfielder, who has three England caps.

Rocastle, Leeds United's pounds 2m recruit from Arsenal, was last night considering a move to Derby County. Leeds and Derby have agreed a fee of just over pounds 1m, with the transfer now subject to Rocastle's agreeing personal terms and his willingness to drop into the First Division.

Derby have also enquired about Steve Hodge, another former England midfield player at Leeds, and John Harkes, Sheffield Wednesday's American midfielder. With Wednesday keen on Derby's Mark Pembridge, a part-exchange deal may be arranged.

Everton's search for forward power took them back to Wednesday yesterday with a renewed offer of pounds 800,000 for Mark Bright. They were again spurned, as they were earlier in the summer over Brian Deane and Duncan Ferguson, and the former Crystal Palace striker is now the subject of interest from Chelsea.

Bright's future, and several other transactions, may hinge on the outcome of Queen's Park Rangers' pounds 600,000 bid for Trevor Sinclair, the 20-year-old Blackpool midfielder. Like Andy Sinton, rated at pounds 3m by QPR and coveted by Wednesday and Arsenal, Sinclair can play on the left of midfield and his arrival might spark a chain reaction in the market.

Meanwhile, Leeds and Manchester United are to appear before an FA hearing on 31 August to answer a misconduct charge. The clubs withdrew a total of nine players from the England Under-18 squad's trip to Scandinavia last month, which was part of the national side's build-up to the European Championship finals.

Howard Wilkinson and Alex Ferguson, the respective managers, are expected to argue that their players, who had contested a two-leg FA Youth Cup final in May at the end of an arduous season, needed a longer break. Also in trouble before a ball is kicked in anger is Don Hutchison, the Liverpool midfielder, who has been fined two weeks' wages by the club for allegedly exposing himself in a city- centre bar.

Channel 4 has agreed a three-year contract, worth more than pounds 9m, to continue live coverage of Serie A next season. The first game will be between Sampdoria and Napoli on Sunday 29 August. Paul Gascoigne will again feature in the Saturday magazine. Michael Grade, C4's chief executive, said that last year's pounds 1.5m deal was 'a steal - now it's just a bargain.'

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