Football: Villa sign up Larsen on trial

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The Independent Online
ASTON VILLA last night signed Henrik Larsen, a member of Denmark's triumphant European Championship team, on a week's trial from Pisa with a view to a pounds 1m transfer.

If the 26-year-old attacking midfielder measures up to requirements in two reserve matches - against Notts County tonight and at Leeds on Monday - he will stay on loan at Villa Park until the end of the season before completing the move.

Larsen, a left-sided player who joined Pisa from Lyngby, scored three goals as Denmark took the title last summer. Villa's interest follows a chance meeting on a plane with manager Ron Atkinson when the Premier League side flew to Italy for a friendly last November.

George Graham, the Arsenal manager who faces an FA disciplinary hearing following his comments to referee Alf Buksh after last month's derby at Tottenham, confirmed last night that he will make a personal appearance before the committee. He will also accompany Ian Wright, the striker who is on a misconduct charge, to his hearing tomorrow.

'We'll take our punishment when we deserve it but I know the media loves making a great thing of it whenever Arsenal are involved,' he said. 'I've only had to answer one other charge like this in my Highbury career and I don't think my record is too bad.'

He also came to Wright's defence. 'It has all been said about Ian Wright. He is working hard on his discipline and I'm working with him but people still try to hound him,' Graham said. 'Cameras were trained on his every move at Yeovil on Saturday and one picture of him showing three fingers to our fans when they asked him how many goals he had scored was interpreted as a V-sign. Anybody looking at the picture properly would realise the truth.'

The club lying 18th in Beazer Homes League Premier Division, Solihull Borough, have declared an interest in buying Birmingham City, bottom of the First Division, who are up for sale for around pounds 2m following the collapse of their owners' business.

Solihull, with pounds 4m in the bank following the sale of their ground, have lodged the pounds 5,000 bond with the Receiver required of parties interested in acquiring the Kumar brothers' 84 per cent shareholding in Birmingham.

Kevin Ratcliffe, who led Everton to League, FA Cup and European Cup-Winners' Cup success, has joined Cardiff City on a match-to-match basis. The former Welsh international defender, 32, makes his debut on Saturday.

Joe Jordan, the Heart of Midlothian manager, yesterday decsribed the offer of a new contract as 'acceptable' but admitted he had asked Hearts' chairman, Wallace Mercer, for clarification of the club's financial position.

Jordan hinted he might move on during the close season unless money for team-strengthening was forthcoming. Hearts last night issued a statement claiming that their contract offer 'clearly delineates the ambitions of the board'.