Coventry sign cut-price Mills

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The Independent Online

The Portsmouth striker Lee Mills has signed for the Fratton Park club's First Division rivals Coventry City for a fee of £250,000 based on appearances.

The 31-year-old has been on loan at Highfield Road since the end of November and has now agreed a deal after impressing the Sky Blues' manager Roland Nilsson.

Mills played only twice for Pompey this season after falling out of favour following the arrival of Peter Crouch and Mark Burchill at Fratton Park.

The Portsmouth chairman Milan Mandaric said: "We wish Lee all the very best at Coventry and it's unfortunate that things did not work out for him.

"Whilst we are largely writing off our investment, this move does go some way towards meeting our objective of reducing the wage bill, which was imperative in view of the club's debt situation. Clearly it is in our interests to move on those players who are not contributing and who are not in first-team contention."

Crystal Palace have completed the signing of the experienced Middlesbrough full-back Curtis Fleming for an undisclosed fee. The Eagles' manager Trevor Francis will include the Republic of Ireland international in his squad to face Gillingham at Selhurst Park tomorrow.

Fleming spent a month on loan at Birmingham City earlier this season and made six appearances for the Blues. The 33-year-old said: "I am very happy to come to Crystal Palace, it is a big club with great support.

"I have played at Selhurst Park a few times and I know what good players we have in the squad. I have two goals – one is to get back in the Premiership and the other is to get back into the Republic of Ireland squad."

* Marco van Basten, who retired from playing in 1995 at the age of 30 with a serious ankle injury, has announced plans to take up coaching. The former Milan and Netherlands striker is to start a coaching course in September and hopes to earn a professional coaching licence by May 2003.