Football: Unsworth back at Villa Park

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The Independent Online
DAVID UNSWORTH resumed training with Aston Villa yesterday, after his proposed pounds 3m move back to Everton ran into more problems.

The 24-year-old England defender had looked destined to rejoin the Goodison Park club, when Villa agreed to sell him only days after he arrived in Birmingham following a pounds 3m move from West Ham.

Unsworth, who had asked to leave his new club because he could not cope with travelling between the Midlands and his Merseyside home, remains a Villa player, after Everton failed to agree the terms of payment of the fee with Villa.

Villa's manager, John Gregory, said: "This has been rumbling on for 10 days. With Everton not prepared to reach agreement so far, we've had no choice but to call him back. It would appear that Peter Johnson [Everton's chairman] is trying to get the fee reduced."

Unsworth, who had refused to train with the Birmingham club until yesterday, will not play for either side when Villa face Everton on Saurday because he is, perhaps fortuitously, suspended.

Gregory agreed new long-term contracts with two of his players yesterday. The right-back Gary Charles has finalised a deal that will keep him at Villa Park until 2003, while the midfielder Mark Draper has secured a new four-year deal. Both men were on contracts that expired next summer.

Now that their hopes of securing Unsworth appear to be over, Everton may bring in the Croatian defender, Mario Stanic, to play alongside his compatriot Slaven Bilic in the Toffees' rearguard.

"We have made an enquiry about Stanic," Walter Smith, the Everton manager, admitted yesterday. The 26-year-old is valued at about pounds 4.5m by his Italian club, Parma.

The Nottingham Forest manager, Dave Bassett, last night gave way to the demands of the Dutch World Cup striker, Pierre van Hooijdonk, and put him on the transfer list with an pounds 8m price tag.

Forest had sent their director of football, Irving Scholar, to the Netherlands to try and persuade Van Hooijdonk to stay, but in vain. "It was inevitable, really, that Pierre wasn't going to come back," Bassett said.

Forest's two new strikers, Jean-Claude Darcheville and Dougie Freedman, both scored in Monday's 3-2 friendly defeat at home to Feyenoord - a club with whom Van Hooijdonk has often been linked with.

Sheffield Wednesday have signed the Argentinian right-back Juan Cobian, 23, from Boca Juniors for a small fee. He has an Italian passport and does not need a work permit.

Brazil have named Vanderley Luxemburgo as their new coach in succession to Mario Zagallo. The 46-year-old never played international football but has been a successful club coach with Palmeiras and, currently, Corinthians.

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