Football: Wright's return date

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IAN WRIGHT is poised to return to first-team action in the Premiership game against Derby at Upton Park on 17 April.

The West Ham United striker has been suffering from a knee injury in recent weeks but is scheduled to start his comeback in tomorrow's reserve encounter at Southend.

Meanwhile, South Africa have refused to withdraw their bid to host the 2006 World Cup despite a German offer to back them for the 2010 tournament.

Sam Ramsamy, a South African International Olympic Committee member, said there would be no deal between the two countries and described the offer, made last March by the German Interior Minister, Otto Schily, as "insane".

So far eight countries - Germany, South Africa, England, Brazil, Ghana, Egypt, Morocco and Nigeria - have all bid for the 2006 tournament.

Real Madrid's Predrag Mijatovic has appealed to the Spanish club not to take action against him for boycotting Sunday's league match against Alaves in protest at Nato air strikes against his homeland.

"They mustn't punish me... or any other person in my situation," said the Montenegrin.