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Football: Taylor set for City life under Royle's command

JOE ROYLE, the manager of the First Division leaders Manchester City, had another reason to be happy yesterday by agreeing a price with Gillingham to secure the services of their striker Robert Taylor. Although Taylor still has to settle personal terms at Maine Road, the two clubs have agreed a fee of pounds 1.5m.

"Peter Taylor [the Gillingham manager] told me Robert is a cross between Teddy Sheringham and Matt Le Tissier," Royle said. "He's a great striker of the ball and he knows how to drift into space. I've seen him a good few times and Robert is probably the hottest striker in the land at the moment."

The Charlton Athletic manager Alan Curbishley is not expecting an easy ride when Port Vale travel to The Valley today - but Curbishley wants his second-placed side to take the initiative against the visitors from the Potteries.

"They will come at us more than some clubs, but it would be nice for us to take a lead at home," Curbishley said. "In our last three home games we have gone a goal behind; against Tranmere and Walsall we managed to come back but couldn't against Manchester City."

Barnsley, four points behind Charlton in fourth place, will parade their new on-loan defender Steve Chettle at Queen's Park Rangers as they aim to bounce back from their midweek defeat at Manchester City. Two points behind the Tykes are Ipswich Town, whose manager George Burley will not underestimate the challenge of Crewe at Portman Road, despite being 17 places ahead of the Railwaymen.

"Crewe beat us last season in the league, they are unbeaten in their last three games and they got a good result against Portsmouth last Saturday," Burley said. "They will certainly make it difficult for us."

Tony Parkes becomes the prince to Stockport's paupers when Blackburn play host to the Hatters - but Rovers' caretaker manager believes that the lesser-known County players are capable of ending his side's improved run. "When you look at Stockport's team sheet you don't recognise many names," he said, "but they all do a job and are effective at what they do."