Football: Shearer may be ready for early return to action

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The Independent Online
Alan Shearer has given a boost to both Newcastle and England supporters after resuming training yesterday. The striker has not played this season after injuring his right ankle in early August.

Although both Shearer and his manager, Kenny Dalglish, have refused to put a date on his likely return to action, he could be back by late January or early February, at least a month ahead of schedule.

Andy Hinchcliffe wants a signing-off fee from Everton before he joins Tottenham. The defender has asked his club to settle the loyalty payment in his contract, as he believes that, as he has not asked to leave, he should be compensated. If Hinchcliffe had not signed a new contract, he would have been a free agent this summer and therefore, he argues, leaving now for a fee would bring Everton a big profit.

Another unsettled Goodison player is Gary Speed, who may make the move to Hillsborough after Sheffield Wednesday offered pounds 5m plus Graham Hyde, as well as doubling Speed's wages, although the midfielder may yet opt for a move to Newcastle.

Despite the controversy surrounding his decision to end Saturday's match just before Wimbledon scored, the referee Steve Dunn will take charge of their FA Cup replay with Wrexham on 13 January.

Stevenage Borough plan to double the capacity of their ground in order to keep home advantage for their FA Cup fourth-round match with Newcastle.The GM Vauxhall Conference club intend to install an extra 6,000 seats for the match, which is scheduled to be televised live by Sky Sports on Sunday 25 January.

After failing to return on time after his Christmas break in Brazil, Emerson may find himself on a permanent holiday from Middlesbrough. Bryan Robson has fined the player and banned him from training.

Leeds United have agreed to sell Pierre Laurent back to Bastia for pounds 500,000 - double the fee they paid for him. Meanwhile, their former striker Tomas Brolin has joined Crystal Palace for a two-week training spell.

Andy Hunt, West Bromwich Albion's leading scorer, may be going to the World Cup finals in France this summer, after contacting the Austrian Football Association saying he is eligible to play for them because he has an Austrian grandmother.

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