Football: Spencer joins QPR for pounds 2.5m

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John Spencer yesterday took his goalscoring skills a short distance across west London when he left Chelsea to join Queen's Park Rangers for pounds 2.5m.

Spencer, 26, was Chelsea's top marksman with 13 Premiership goals last season, having been joint top scorer the previous campaign. However, the 5ft 6in striker has been frozen out following Ruud Gullit's preferred front pairing of Gianluca Vialli and Mark Hughes.

The transfer of the Scot, who arrived at Stamford Bridge in a pounds 450,000 move from Rangers in 1992, has helped Chelsea to balance the books following last week's pounds 4.5m signing of a third Italian, Gianfranco Zola. For Queen's Park Rangers, Spencer's capture, coming soon after Trevor Sinclair's decision to withdraw his transfer request, is a welcome lift. "He has a good background and is a quality player with experience," Stewart Houston, the QPR manager, said of his first signing. Rangers fans will expect to see the evidence at Reading tomorrow.

Alan Shearer's reputation as the world's fastest healer was further enhanced yesterday when he strode back into the Newcastle team for tomorrow's game at Chelsea. The world's most expensive player returns to the Premiership just one month after his second groin operation and was described by a Newcastle spokesman as being "fit as a fiddle". Shearer's comeback is a timely one for the leaders, with Les Ferdinand weeks away from playing after suffering a depressed cheekbone.

With strikers of such class around, the 20-year-old Darren Huckerby has decided his only chance of first-team action lies at the other end of the table with Coventry City. If all goes well in talks today, Huckerby, who started his career with Lincoln City and joined Newcastle for pounds 400,000 last year, will agree a pounds 1m transfer and could make his Coventry debut 24 hours later at home to Aston Villa.

Huckerby may be influenced by the wage freeze imposed yesterday after Coventry revealed losses of nearly pounds 8m for the year ended last May, the result of spending pounds 7.8m on players and a subsequent rise in the salary bill of pounds 1.7m to pounds 5.7m.

One of Terry Venables' new international charges, the Australian goalkeeper Marc Schwarzer, has turned down Manchester City and joined Bradford City in a pounds 300,000 move from the German club Dynamo Dresden.

Troubled Brighton and Hove Albion, who must move out of the Goldstone Ground next summer, have received a bizarre ground-sharing offer for next season - from Carlisle United. "We'd do anything to help a fellow club survive," Carlisle's extrovert chairman, Michael Knighton, said.

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