Football: Wolves pay record pounds 3.5m for Akinbiyi

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ADE AKINBIYI became the Nationwide League's most expensive player yesterday when he joined Wolverhampton Wanderers from Bristol City for pounds 3.5m. The 24-year-old striker takes over from Fulham's midfielder Lee Clark as the most costly signing outside the Premiership after moving to Molineux on a five-year contract. "The fee does not bother me," he said. "I am very happy to be here and to have everything sorted out."

Akinbiyi joins up again at Wolves with coaches John Ward and Terry Connor, who were on the Ashton Gate staff when he was signed from Gillingham in the summer of last year.

Middlesbrough face an anxious couple of days as they wait to see if Juninho will be granted a work permit. As expected, the Brazilian has initially been refused a permit after agreeing a short-term contract and now club officials will travel to London on Friday for an appeal hearing at the Department for Education and Employment.

Juninho has not figured in enough of his country's internationals in the past two years to meet the 75 per cent qualification criterion, and it is understood that officials have been preparing their appeal case. Meanwhile, the club are hopeful of resurrecting the French midfielder Ibrahim Ba's move to the Riverside. Boro announced last week that the Senegal-born Milan player had agreed to join until the end of the season, but their hopes seemed to be dashed on Monday when two Italian papers reported that the former Bordeaux player had turned down the move.

Paul Gascoigne may return for Boro against Southampton on Saturday after an appearance against Sunderland reserves on Monday night. Gascoigne proved his fitness after a calf injury in a goalless draw in which he was booked for dissent.

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