Football: Shearer and Dublin still on course

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WHILE Blackburn have dismissed suggestions that Alan Shearer's return, after a cartilage operation, would be delayed, another expensive striker, Dion Dublin, will play again within a fortnight.

Dublin, who cost Manchester United pounds 1m on his close-season transfer from Cambridge, had almost been forgotten since breaking a leg five months ago but United expect their giant striker to be back in reserve football within 14 days.

At Ewood both Shearer and his manager Kenny Dalglish denied the pounds 3.3m striker had suffered a setback in training. The expectation on Tuesday, when Rovers lost to Crystal Palace, was that he would be back possibly in time to play in the FA Cup fifth-round home tie against Newcastle. Phrases used yesterday, such as 'we won't rush him' and 'slowly but surely' now suggest a longer delay.

The out-of-court settlement by the Rangers and Scotland midfielder Ian Durrant, compensation for an absence of almost three years through an injury caused by a tackle from Neil Simpson, then of Aberdeen, was called 'unsatisfactory' by Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballlers' Association, yesterday.

Durrant claimed pounds 2m but is believed to have settled for nearer pounds 250,000. Taylor said: 'It's disappointing because a judgment might have established a precedent and given us some guideline. The whole business of one player suing another is unsatisfactory but you cannot deny the individual the right to do it. The one certain outcome is insurance premiums will escalate.'

Unless Sunderland have another name hidden, their managerial vacancy seems likely to be filled by either Terry Butcher, currently club captain, or Neil Warnock, late of Notts County. Steve Coppell followed Bryan Robson out of the reckoning yesterday when he announced he would fulfil the terms of his present contract with Crystal Palace, due to end in 1994.

Peter Shilton, the manager of Plymouth Argyle, yesterday spent more than two hours with the club chairman, Dan McCauley, talking over the club's problems. Shilton received a vote of confidence. 'I'm 100 per cent behind the manager,' McCauley said later.

Non-League Notebook, page 29

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