Football: United's Brazilian deal runs aground

Manchester United's quest to sign the Brazilian centre-back Celio Silva is on the brink of collapse because of work permit problems. The 29-year- old Corinthians player does not have enough international caps.

As holders, Brazil are not playing World Cup qualifiers and Celio Silva managed just one cap in the recent Copa America. He has also been omitted from the squad for forthcoming friendlies.

Alex Ferguson, United's manager, admitted last night: "Celio has only six international caps, so that is a worry for us. It is a concern but we can only wait and see what happens this week." He has already started work on alternatives, with the Chilean international Dante Poli arriving on trial. The pounds 2.4m-rated centre-back does not need a work permit as he has an Italian passport.

The need for at least one defender is increasing, with Gary Pallister injured and David May picking up a thigh strain in the friendly against Internazionale on Sunday.

United supporters will not see Ronaldo make his second appearance for Inter tomorrow, when the Italian club visit Old Trafford. The 20-year- old Brazilian striker, who made a 17-minute debut for Inter as they beat United on penalties at the San Siro on Sunday, will be rested from the return game.

Liverpool said yesterday they had not made an offer for the German international striker Karlheinz Riedle, despite reports to the contrary from Borussia Dortmund, whose sports director, Ottmar Hitzfeld, had said earlier that the European Cup winners were considering an offer from Liverpool. "We are in contact with Liverpool, and I expect a decision to be made this week," he said.

Mark Kennedy and Oyvind Leonhardsen each found the net twice as Liverpool beat a Shelbourne/UCD XI 6-0 in Dublin last night.

The Wimbledon midfielder Robbie Earle is facing a battle to be fit for the start of the new season after a knee injury he picked up during the Dons' friendly defeat against the Norwegian national side last week.

Middlesbrough are giving trials to Tunisia's international goalkeeper Ali Boumnijel, 31, and a 20-year-old striker, Nicolas Escethn'zi, from the French club Gueugnon.

Terry Bullivant last night made his first signings since taking charge of Reading by spending pounds 500,000 on the defender, Linvoy Primus, and the striker Lee Hodges, both from his old club, Barnet. Primus was valued at pounds 400,000.

West Bromwich have sold the winger Kevin Donovan to Grimsby for pounds 300,000. His move to Blundell Park reunites him with the Mariners manager, Alan Buckley, who was sacked by Albion in January.

Celtic and Rangers escaped without punishment yesterday at a disciplinary hearing of the Scottish Football Association, which investigated scenes at the end of the final Old Firm game of last season, when spectators ran on to the pitch at Parkhead. After hearing the views of both clubs, the committee decided to take no action.

A late goal from West Ham's Lee Boylan gave the Republic of Ireland a 1-1 draw against Israel last night that put them into the final stages of the European Youth Championship in Iceland.

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