Football: Wilkinson's brief move

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The Independent Online
HOWARD WILKINSON, the Leeds United manager, is considering pursuing legal action against Eric Cantona, the player who helped bring the championship to Elland Road in 1992, over comments made by the French international in his newly-published autobiography.

In Cantona - My Story, the Manchester United striker alleges that Wilkinson forced him out of the Yorkshire club: 'It became more and more clear that he wanted to get rid of me,' Cantona wrote.

Wilkinson's reaction, in a statement yesterday, was terse and strong. 'I'm aware of the allegations Eric Cantona has made. His claims against me and Leeds United are factually incorrect and I can prove that. I feel I must now seek advice on whether to take legal action against Eric and his publishers.' Leeds could also report their former employee to the Football Association.

Cantona has recovered from a calf injury and will be fit to face Charlton Athletic in the FA Cup quarter-final tomorrow at Old Trafford tomorrow.

Dave Bassett, the Sheffield United manager, has been warned over his future conduct by the FA after the latest crackdown on black-market FA Cup final tickets. Bassett was not directly responsible for a ticket allocated to the club finding its way to a tout, and the FA considered a reprimand the appropriate punishment. Mel Sterland (Leeds), Phil King (Sheffield Wednesday) and Carl Leaburn (Charlton) were also punished, along with 17 others.

Paul Walsh's pounds 750,000 move from Portsmouth to Manchester City was held up yesterday, with both clubs picking over the deal's fine details.

Paul Lake's comeback from knee surgery has been slowed after he was concussed in a City reserve match. 'Any player admitted to hospital having been concussed for more than a minute cannot be allowed to play again for a while,' Eamonn Salmon, the Maine Road physio, said. 'Paul was out for three minutes at least, so he's facing another long rest.'

Bruce Dyer, Watford's 18- year-old striker, joined Crystal Palace yesterday for an initial pounds 1.1m. Palace will pay an extra pounds 150,000 when Dyer completes an agreed number of games. Alan Smith, Palace's manager, said the club chequebook was not closed. 'Bruce is coming in as part of building up our squad and I'll keep looking for players to do that. It is like painting the Forth Bridge. The work never stops.'

Milan's unsettled Jean- Pierre Papin, an international colleague of Cantona's, has denied he is about to re-join his former club, Marseille, but he has been told he can leave the San Siro in the summer.

Blackpool yesterday announced the appointment of Gill Bridge, 27, as managing director. 'Our new stadium will be the most innovative in the country and my job is to elevate the club's standing to a status which befits that,' Bridge said of the pounds 80m plans to develop Bloomfield Road.

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