Football: Sunderland set to land Waddle

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The Independent Online
Chris Waddle looks set to return home to his native North-east, after David Pleat, the Sheffield Wednesday manager, apparently abandoned his quest to keep him at Hillsborough. Sunderland, who are preparing to increase a rejected pounds 400,000 bid up towards pounds 750,000, are now the favourites to sign the 34-year-old forward.

Celtic have also indicated their interest in the former England player, but are unlikely to tempt him to Glasgow. Pleat dismissed speculation about Waddle's departure earlier this week, insisting he believed a leading role could be found for the mercurial former Tottenham and Newcastle man. Now, though, Pleat seems sure Waddle's heart is no longer at Hillsborough and, though the player has not yet submitted a written transfer request, he is prepared to let him go at the right price.

"Chris is absolutely convinced that it is now time for him to move on," Pleat said yesterday. "He does not want to wait until his contract expires next summer. If he is certain in his own mind, I'm certainly not going to stand in his way, providing we are properly compensated."

Mark Atkins, the long-serving Blackburn Rovers midfielder, yesterday became Graham Taylor's fifth seven-figure signing for Wolves. Having collected pounds 900,000 from the sale of David Kelly to Sunderland, the former England manager spent pounds 1m to secure the 27-year-old Atkins, who cost Rovers pounds 45,000 from Scunthorpe in 1988.

Lou Macari, the Stoke City manager, is awaiting Chelsea's reply to his request to re-sign Mark Stein on loan. Stein, out of favour at Stamford Bridge, left Stoke for pounds 1.6m two years ago. Macari has also approached Tottenham and Arsenal with a view to borrowing Darren Caskey and David Hillier respectively.

The Northern Ireland winger, Michael Hughes, is to return from the French club, Strasbourg, to West Ham on loan until the end of the season. Hughes played for the Hammers last season.

Robert Fleck, the Chelsea striker on loan at Norwich City, has been charged with bringing the game into disrepute after allegedly making insulting comments to a linesman. It follows Norwich's stormy fixture at Sheffield United earlier this month, when the Scot was ordered from the dug-out by the referee, Keith Cooper, following a complaint from a linesman.

Liverpool's 32-year-old Danish international midfielder, Jan Molby, has joined Barnsley on a month's loan.

SCOTTISH COCA-COLA CUP Semi-final draw: Rangers v Aberdeen (Hampden Park, Glasgow, 24 October); Dundee v Airdrie (McDiarmid Park, Perth, 25 October).

Spurs' pounds 5.3m profit, page 20

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