Football: Van Basten out of World Cup: Untimely diagnosis for Dutch international striker

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The Independent Online
MARCO VAN BASTEN finally relinquished his hopes of leading the Netherlands' attack in the World Cup finals yesterday, conceding that his injured ankle was improving too slowly for him to be ready for the summer.

The Milan striker has played only three matches, including last season's European Cup final, since undergoing the first of two operations 16 months ago. 'It's a positive surprise that there's some improvement,' Van Basten said after seeing a Belgian specialist. 'I used to set myself goals but I could never reach them. Now I can forget about the USA too.'

The struggle for control of Everton took a fresh twist when a member of Bill Kenwright's consortium - which appeared to have lost out to the Tranmere chairman, Peter Johnson - offered the club a pounds 2m interest-free loan to buy players and claimed the Johnson bid was set to fail.

Kenwright's ally, Arthur Abercromby, said he did not want to see Everton under financial pressure at a 'crucial stage' when they were still threatened by relegation.

He added that while the board was proceeding with Johnson's offer, it remained subject to shareholders' approval.

'There will be a delay before any meeting can be called, with 21 days' notice required, which would take the club beyond the transfer deadline (24 March),' he said. 'Furthermore, initial soundings suggest the offer does not enjoy sufficient support and will fail.'

Manchester United, fresh from the 4-1 humbling of Sheffield Wednesday in the Coca- Cola Cup at Hillsborough, may again be without Eric Cantona (calf) as well as Gary Pallister (neck) for the Premiership home game against Chelsea tomorrow.

Nottingham Forest, who will be without their injured top scorer Stan Collymore for a further fortnight, are set to invest pounds 150,000 in the raw potential of the 6ft 3in Southend striker Jason Lee.

Celtic's board last night called for the immediate resignation of two directors, David Smith and Chris White. The board have entered into detailed discussions with Brian Dempsey and Fergus McCann, who made an unsuccessful bid for the club in November.

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