Paphitis brushes off Wise rumours

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The Independent Football

The Idea that Dennis Wise might be tempted to turn his back on progressive Millwall to further his management career with ailing Sheffield Wednesday seems preposterous but the rumour mongers in South London have persuaded the Lions chairman, Theo Paphitis, to issue words of reassurance to concerned supporters.

The Idea that Dennis Wise might be tempted to turn his back on progressive Millwall to further his management career with ailing Sheffield Wednesday seems preposterous but the rumour mongers in South London have persuaded the Lions chairman, Theo Paphitis, to issue words of reassurance to concerned supporters.

The murmurings have their roots in Sheffield. The former Chelsea chairman, Ken Bates, proposes to invest up to £10m in the Hillsborough club and the current Wednesday manager Chris Turner may find his days numbered if Bates does buy in. Speculation over a possible successor has led to Wise's name being raised.

The former Chelsea midfielder remains friends with Bates but it seems inconceivable, after making such an impact since he became Millwall's player-manager, that Wise would abandon his successful start for an uncertain future in Yorkshire.

Wise says the length of his stay at the New Den, along with that of the assistant manager Ray Wilkins, depends on the continuing tenure of Paphitis as chairman. But Paphitis said this week: "Dennis is happy with us and we are happy with him. He asked me if I was going to be here next season because it affected him and I told him I will be at Millwall.

"So will he and that is as far as we can look at the moment." Wise, at 37 still an effective player, is contracted until the end of next season and Paphitis will attempt to secure his services for a longer period in the summer, a task that is unlikely to throw up much difficulty if Millwall are in the Premiership next season.

That seemed a remote prospect a couple of months ago with the Lions seemingly anchored in mid-table but a run of eight wins in 10 First Division games has sent them soaring to fifth place ahead of today's trip to relegation-threatened Walsall. Wise also has them in the semi-finals of the FA Cup, in which they meet Sunderland a week tomorrow.

Such progress suggests Wise, who took over from Mark McGhee in October, has what it takes to succeed in management and if anyone is to tempt him away from his present job it is unlikely to be one with problems on Wednesday's scale.

If Wise is staying, however, the same cannot be guaranteed of his hottest playing asset, the 24-year-old midfielder Tim Cahill, who looks likely to win his first cap for Australia against South Africa in a friendly at Loftus Road on Tuesday. Reports from Scotland indicate that Rangers may be prepared to make a £3m bid for the player in the summer.

Millwall could move up a place with victory at Walsall. Sunderland, whom they trail only on goal difference, will be favourites to beat struggling Derby at home. Sheffield United, who have won only four of their last 12 games, could be vulnerable at Cardiff, where both Sunderland and Norwich have come a cropper recently.

Of the joint leaders, West Bromwich Albion face marginally the trickier task at home to Crystal Palace compared with Norwich's against Stoke at Carrow Road. Both have yet to go to Sunderland, whom Norwich see as the main threat among the chasing pack, but the Canaries manager Nigel Worthington says that five more wins for his side will all but guarantee Premiership football next season.

Wimbledon, 24 points from safety with only 10 games left, will have one foot in the Second Division if Ipswich inflict an 11th consecutive defeat on the Dons in Milton Keynes.

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