Tony Adams is closer to rejoining Arsenal's Premiership title fight after playing his first game since a foot operation nearly three months ago.
The 35-year-old played for 45 minutes in a friendly against Peterborough last night and could return to the first-team squad before his initial comeback target in the New Year.
Arsenal's Christmas programme, with matches against Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday and Chelsea at Highbury on Boxing Day, may come just a little too early for the former England centre-half but he could be ready for the home game with Middlesbrough on 29 December.
The midfielder Freddie Ljungberg, who has missed four games with a back injury, goalkeeper Richard Wright who has been out for a month with knee trouble and striker Francis Jeffers, troubled by a recurrent ankle problem all season, also played and could be in contention for Anfield on Sunday.
Patrick Vieira, who is suspended for the trip to Liverpool, has been voted French Footballer of the Year. He came top of a poll in France Football magazine, ahead of his Arsenal team-mate Thierry Henry, and Real Madrid's Zinedine Zidane
Tottenham are set to sign the veteran goalkeeper Dave Beasant for the rest of the season after he severed his ties with Portsmouth. Beasant is cancelling his contract with Pompey and has signed a short-term deal with Spurs.
Liverpool will find out today if they can begin to include Milan Baros in their team when their appeal to the Department of Employment over a work permit for the Czech Republic international is heard. The original application was rejected because Baros, who cost £3.6m from Banik Ostrava, had not made enough full international appearances.
Wolves have transfer listed the former England Under-21 international striker Michael Branch and the Belgian forward Cedric Roussel, paving the way for on-loan Dean Sturridge to complete his transfer from Leicester.
Although both clubs have agreed a fee, Sturridge has said the deal is far from being confirmed, as he has to agree personal terms. "We will see how determined they are to get me," he said.
Birmingham have signed the Polish international midfielder Arkadiusz Bak on loan with a view to a £300,000 move.
The Blackpool manager, Steve McMahon, has made a £225,000 bid for Bury's striker Jon Newby.
Roy Evans has resigned from his position as director of football of Second Division Swindon Town after just four months in the job. The Robins have serious financial problems and the new chairman, Willie Carson, has been unable to guarantee the former Liverpool manager funds to strengthen the team.
Swindon are 16th in the Second Division table, seven points clear of the relegation zone. "It's been a very difficult decision for me," Evans said. "I've had a fabulous time here."
The Robins' assistant manager, Malcolm Crosby, will take charge of team affairs for the game against Notts County at Meadow Lane tonight.
The St Johnstone captain Jim Weir has been ruled out of the holiday schedule after a training ground accident. The defender suffered a triple fracture of his cheekbone and jaw in a collision with the goalkeeper Kevin Cuthbert.
* Jonathan Pearce, Capital Radio's fast-talking commentator, has been signed up by BBC Radio Five Live. He will begin commentating on Premiership games for the station from the New Year, teaming up with regular correspondents such as Alan Green. Pearce, a Bristol City supporter, began his broadcasting career at BBC Radio Bristol in 1979.