Football: Shearer interest increases

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The Independent Online
ALAN SHEARER may not have been the answer to England's prayers at the European Championship finals last month, but the 21-year- old Southampton striker is still a much-prized asset in the Premier League transfer market-place.

Shearer, who won his third cap in the 0-0 draw against France in Sweden, has already been the subject of a pounds 3.2m bid from Blackburn Rovers - which found no favour at The Dell. Manchester United, who are long-time admirers of the player, and Liverpool are expected to enter the bidding, with pounds 4m the likely reserve price. 'If the time is right we have to sell him,' Ian Branfoot, the Southampton manager, said of Shearer, who is still under contract to the Hampshire club.

Blackburn have had more luck with the Middlesbrough forward Stuart Ripley, who has agreed terms at Ewood Park and is expected to sign for pounds 1.3m today. On his way to Ayresome Park, for a fee to be decided, is the Southampton defender Jon Gittens, who helped Middlesbrough seal promotion to the Premier League while on loan last season.

Sunderland, one of the north- east clubs left behind in the Barclays League, are signing John Colquhoun, the former Hearts striker, from Millwall for pounds 250,000. Making the short journey from Sunderland to Newcastle is Paul Bracewell, the former England and Everton midfield man, for whom a fee of pounds 250,000 was set by a League tribunal in Leeds yesterday.

In the other tribunal decisions, Kevin Russell's move from Leicester to Stoke was valued at pounds 95,000; and Bolton's Mike Jeffrey, also a forward, has cost Doncaster pounds 20,000. York City - without outside assistance - have agreed a fee of pounds 50,000 for the Stoke striker, Paul Barnes.

Peter Shilton and Osvaldo Ardiles, old adversaries at club and international level, will renew their rivalry at the humble level of the first round of the Rumbelows League Cup next month, in which Shilton's Plymouth Argyle meet Ossie's West Bromwich Albion - with the first leg at The Hawthorns.