Football: Sunderland open the door for Butcher

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(First Edition)

AFTER the tribulations, the trial. Terry Butcher, sent off in his last senior appearance and sacked as Coventry's manager at Christmas, has signed for a two-month trial at Sunderland, in the hope of reviving his League career.

The 33-year-old former England centre-half has not made a senior appearance since being dismissed in a ZDS Cup tie against Aston Villa 10 months ago.

Malcolm Crosby, the Sunderland manager, who has taken Butcher on a free transfer, said yesterday: 'If all goes well Butcher will sign for the season.' Crosby is known to be interested in Shaun Cunnington, the central defender valued at pounds 750,000 by Grimsby Town.

Butcher, who captained his country at the 1990 World Cup finals and retired from international football immediately afterwards with 77 caps, cost Coventry pounds 400,000 from Glasgow Rangers in November 1990.

But he had a nagging knee problem and made only seven appearances for Coventry during his first season, including one as substitute.

Last season's only outing ended in ignominy - and Butcher's four-year contract was terminated at the end of December.

There then followed a wrangle over his severance pay, Butcher joining former Rangers colleague Trevor Francis at Sheffield Wednesday towards the end of last season and making three Central League outings.

He has been keen to prove his fitness and recently completed a 700-mile charity cycle ride that started in Scotland.

Butcher's first club, Ipswich Town, yesterday signed Geraint Williams from Derby County for pounds 650,000 - a club record fee.

The 30-year-old midfield player, capped by Wales 11 times, has signed a four-year contract with the new Premier League club.

The previous Ipswich record was the pounds 330,000 they paid Manchester City for Brian Gayle in January 1990.

The Ipswich manager, John Lyall, said: 'We are delighted to have signed a quality player with Premier League experience, and also experience as an international . . . he should become a vital factor in our efforts to achieve success in the Premier League.'

Williams said: 'Not many players get the chance to move up a division at my age and it is nice to be going from one excellent manager, Arthur Cox, to another.'

The Lazio president, Sergio Cragnotti, said yesterday that Paul Gascoigne can become the 'new Maradona' of Italian.

In an interview with Milan's sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport, the Italian industrialist, said: 'Of course I am satisfied with the transfer of Gascoigne to Lazio. You must love him to purchase him.

'Gazza is the new Maradona . . . they have the same temperament. Certainly we will have to control his extraordinary exuberance.'