Villa, meanwhile, could incur more displeasure from Coventry, who are already furious over an alleged illegal approach for George Boateng, by launching a pounds 7m attempt to reunite the striker Noel Whelan with his ex- Highfield Road colleague Dion Dublin. The News of the World says Villa's manager, John Gregory, is a big admirer of Whelan, whose contract expires at the end of next season.
The Mail on Sunday, meanwhile, says Villa, who tried to dump Stan Collymore on Nottingham Forest as part of the Steve Stone deal, are ready to offload Paul Merson if West Ham will accept pounds 5m plus the former Arsenal and Middlesbrough forward for Frank Lampard.
The People's "exclusive" report of a renewed Leeds bid for Forest's Pierre van Hooijdonk appears also in the News of the World, who say Forest are ready now to accept offer of pounds 4m from David O'Leary that they once turned down. The same paper suggests Scot Gemmill will join Derby once his City Ground contract expires in May.
The suggestion that Sunderland's 20-year-old forward, Michael Bridges, will soon give up the contest with Kevin Phillips and Niall Quinn for first-team football and leave the Stadium of Light makes news in the Express and Sunday Mirror, who list Everton, Newcastle and Manchester United as possible destinations for the pounds 5m-rated player.
The Fulham defender Chris Coleman and their striker Barry Hayles are being checked by Liverpool and Tottenham respectively, according to the People, who also report Liverpool interest in the Everton defender, Michael Ball.Reuse content