Barnsley retain hopes of sealing deal for Steele

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The Barnsley chairman Gordon Shepherd says the club are still hopeful of securing FA Cup hero Luke Steele's services for the semi-final against Cardiff City.

The 23-year-old goalkeeper's loan spell at Oakwell came to an end on Monday – when he returned to parent club West Bromwich Albion – after starring in victories over Liverpool and Chelsea.

His chances of facing Cardiff at Wembley on 6 April appeared to be over after the two clubs failed to come to an agreement over the terms of an extended deal. However, Shepherd told the BBC: "We have not given up on signing Luke. We want to take Luke on loan and West Brom want us to make the deal permanent.

"I don't know if anyone from Barnsley has spoken to Luke since he returned to West Brom on Monday but he knows we want to keep him. The two managers are still talking, the deal is not dead by any means."

In Scotland, Barry Ferguson has revealed he will not have surgery before the end of the season to cure an ankle problem. The Rangers captain saw a specialist yesterday after it emerged he had been playing for several weeks with the injury.

The midfielder, 30, was not involved in last night's Scottish Cup tie against Partick Thistle but insists he will lead his team's challenge for three more trophies this season.

"I have had a course of treatment and there's no need for an operation at this point," Ferguson said. "I have to wait 48 hours for the ankle to settle down now before I can do any work so we will have to wait and see.

"But I'm desperate to play my part in the run-in and that was dominating my mind."

In Spain, meanwhile, Real Madrid striker Ruud van Nistelrooy is to have arthroscopic surgery for a problem with his right ankle, the Spanish champions said yesterday. The Netherlands international has flown to Amsterdam for the operation, Real said in a statement.

Van Nistelrooy has missed the Spanish league leaders' past four matches in all competitions suffering from a persistent swelling around the ankle joint. The club do not know how long he will be out of action although his presence at Euro 2008 is unlikely to be threatened.

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