Football: West Bromwich close to capturing Waddle

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Chris Waddle is expected to inform West Bromwich Albion within the next 24 hours as to whether he intends to accept an offer to become player- manager of the First Division club.

Waddle, who is contracted to Bradford City as a player until the end of the season, met Albion's chairman, Tony Hale, and their Yorkshire-based benefactor, Paul Thompson, yesterday to discuss the vacancy created by the sacking of Alan Buckley.

The former England player's decision may hinge on whether he is able to bring the ex-Newcastle and Derby manager, Arthur Cox, to work with him at the Hawthorns. Waddle, 36, is untried in management and wants to tap into Cox's 30 years' experience, particularly on the coaching side.

Cox, who still has a home in the Midlands from his spell in charge of Derby, is currently on the coaching staff at Newcastle. During the Keegan- Dalglish interregnum, he served as joint acting manager with Terry McDermott.

Waddle emerged as Albion's choice after they were turned down by Bruce Rioch. His departure would be a blow to Bradford, whom he helped into the fifth round of the FA Cup with a stunning goal at Everton. His first game would be tomorrow's derby at Birmingham, who are managed by Trevor Francis, who previously signed him for Sheffield Wednesday.

In Italy yesterday, Sven-Goran Eriksson confirmed that he will be managing Blackburn Rovers next season. "The decision's final, I will be going to England," Sampdoria's Swedish coach said after his side had beaten Milan 3-2 at San Siro.