Football: Security tightened for Ball's return

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MANCHESTER CITY are happy that the security arrangements for tonight's home game against Portsmouth will be strong enough to protect the visiting manager, Alan Ball, who can expect a hostile reception from the home crowd.

Ball returns to Maine Road for the first time since he left the club after their relegation from the Premiership in 1996, and the Fratton Park club received a threat against Ball at the weekend claiming he would be "fireworked" at the City match. Ball has refused to make any comment on the threat, insisting that he wants to concentrate on preparing for the match.

The Maine Road security officer, Chris Bird, said: "We have every confidence in the match security already in place. We have an exemplary record at Maine Road and there will be no special arrangements. Hopefully, most attention will be on our battle to get three more points."

The Manchester City captain, Andy Morrison, is doubtful having suffered a knee injury in Saturday's 2-1 win at Port Vale. Shaun Goater (hamstring) and Paul Dickov (knee ligaments) are also set to miss out, but Kevin Horlock will return in place of Jamie Pollock after serving a one-match suspension. Tommy Berntsen, Portsmouth's new Norwegian central defender who has joined on loan from Lillestrom, could be included in the squad.

The former Manchester City player Georgi Kinkladze admits he missed English football during his time in the Netherlands. The Georgian international has joined Derby County on loan from Ajax for the rest of the season - with a view to a permanent move in the summer - and will resume his English career when his work permit is secured.

Kinkladze, who left Maine Road for Amsterdam in the summer of 1998 following the club's relegation to the Second Division, insists he will be fully focused on helping the struggling Rams reach safety this season.

"I am very pleased to come and play English football again," Kinkladze said. "I have missed English football very much. I played for three years with Manchester City and I'd like to come back and do a good job for Derby."

Kinkladze, 26, will miss Saturday's trip to Liverpool but there is a chance he could make his debut at home to Manchester United on 20 November.

The Watford manager, Graham Taylor, is hoping to sign the Bolton Wanderers right-back Neil Cox in a cut-price pounds 750,000 deal. Taylor worked with Cox at Aston Villa and wants the experienced defender to join his survival fight before the weekend. Watford are willing to pay pounds 500,000 up front for Cox, with an additional pounds 200,000 bonus if he helps them to avoid relegation, and the player would leap at the chance of going back to the Premiership and teaming up with his old manager again.

The Bolton Wanderers manager, Sam Allardyce, is reluctant to sell but Cox becomes a free agent next summer and the deal makes good financial sense to the club. Meanwhile, Charlton Athletic and Nottingham Forest have both made enquiries about Andy Todd, the son of the former Bolton Wanderers manager Colin.

The Fulham manager, Paul Bracewell, is to make a pounds 500,000 move for the Walsall right-winger Darren Wrack even though he has just signed a new four-year deal. Walsall are fighting to hold on to Wrack, but he has a price clause in his contract and a deal could be arranged. Fulham have turned to Wrack after giving up hope of signing John Robinson from Charlton Athletic.