Football: Rovers still sure of Eriksson deal

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The Independent Online
Blackburn have hit out at reports casting doubts over Sven Goran Eriksson's appointment as the club's new manager. Stories from home and abroad yesterday claimed that Eriksson may opt to stay in Italy, where he is currently guiding Sampdoria to a title challenge and is also being linked with Lazio.

Tony Parkes, Blackburn's caretaker-manager, said: "People are delving and seem to want to try to cause a problem. Rumours are rumours and there is no point getting worked up about them. The club knows the score and Sven has said he will be here as quickly as he can, no later than July and hopefully before."

However, Dino Zoff, the replacement for the fired coach Zdenek Zeman at Lazio, said yesterday that another manager would take charge of the Italian side next season.

"I had to accept, I am a Cirio employee," Zoff, the Lazio president, told the Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport, explaining why he was returning to the bench. Cirio is the company headed by Lazio's owner, Sergio Cragnotti, who asked Zoff to help out for the rest of the season. Zoff said he would stay until June as coach and would remain president at the same time. "For next season, we will seek other solutions."

Glenn Hoddle may still have to face the prospect of being without Paul Gascoigne for England's World Cup qualifier against Italy on 12 February at Wembley. The England coach is due to name his squad tomorrow, and he spoke to the Rangers midfielder yesterday about the extent of the ankle injury the player picked up in a six-a-side tournament in Amsterdam on Monday night.

Gascoigne flew home for X-rays at a Glasgow hospital and while the original fears over the extent of the problem appear to have eased, the ankle is still badly swollen and the prognosis from Glasgow was not good. "Glenn had contact today with both Paul and Rangers," David Davies, the Football Association's director of public affairs, said. "At this stage we have to regard him as doubtful for the Italy game."

Leicester City's Northern Ireland international Neil Lennon has been charged with misconduct by the FA.

Lennon will appear before a disciplinary panel on 6 February to explain an incident during last October's Premiership match against Newcastle at Filbert Street, when Newcastle fans lodged complaints against him after he was booked for a late tackle on Robert Lee.

The FA will also be asked to consider another incident following Lennon's dismissal against Norwich on Saturday after an off-the-ball clash with Matt Jackson. Leicester are to appeal and plan to send a video to the FA. "If there is an appeal system, we will go through it," the Leicester manager, Martin O'Neill, said. "It was a harsh decision and Matt has said he will back our case if we appeal."

Kenny Dalglish is looking to spend pounds 1m to bring to Newcastle Crewe's 19-year-old striker Danny Murphy - a player he recommended to Rangers during his short time as a part-time scout for the Scottish side.

Coventry City are set to sign the Birmingham central defender Gary Breen in a pounds 2.5m deal. The clubs have agreed a fee for the Republic of Ireland international, who is due to make a decision on the move to Highfield Road today.

If the move goes through, Breen is expected to make his debut for the Sky Blues in Saturday's Premiership match at Sheffield Wednesday - an appearance made all the more pressing following the news that Liam Daish will be out of action for the rest of the season with damaged cruciate ligaments.

Gordon Strachan, the Coventry manager, has completed the signing of the Ukrainian defender, Alex Yevtushok, for pounds 800,000 from Dnepr Dnepropetrovsk after a long wait for a work permit.

After being out of action for over three months with a neck injury, Nigel Pearson, the Middlesbrough captain, has suffered a further setback after he was forced to pull out of a comeback game against Coventry reserves. "The biggest worry is that I could suffer further damage. I have to think of the consequences of another bad knock on my head or neck," Pearson said.

Manchester City are ready to offer pounds 500,000 for Millwall's Australian left-back, Jason van Blerk, who played in a closed-door trial for City yesterday.

Lothar Matthaus, Germany's most capped international, would like to end his playing career with a year in the United States and then move into management. "I like the American mentality very much and I could also learn English there for a career as a manager," the 35-year-old said yesterday.

Morten Olsen, the former Danish international, has signed a two-year contract to coach Ajax when Louis van Gaal leaves the Amsterdam club at the end of the season.

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