Bale to make hay against City

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The Independent Football

Gareth Bale may not be going anywhere just yet, but the Welsh teenager is none the less preparing for his first taste of Premiership opposition on Sunday. The Southampton manager, George Burley, announced yesterday that the 17-year-old left-back will play at Manchester City in the FA Cup fourth-round tie.

Southampton, who have rejected bids of up to £8m for Bale from Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United, left him out of the third-round victory over Torquay, prompting speculation that they did not want to affect Bale's value by having him Cup-tied. Burley, however, maintained that the Wales player was resting a hamstring strain.

"Gareth was injured when we played Torquay but he played last week, he's fit, and if he's fit on Sunday he'll play," Burley said. "But I don't need to see him against Premiership opposition to know his qualities and the standard he can perform at."

City, meanwhile, are interested in signing the Tottenham striker Mido. The Egyptian has started only five Premiership games this season for Spurs. City are also giving a week-long trial to the former Everton and Rangers left-back Michael Ball, currently at PSV Eindhoven.

Elsewhere, the Milan vice-president, Adriano Galliani, will travel to Spain on Monday in the hope of completing a deal for the Real Madrid striker Ronaldo.

"Ronaldo has said that he only wants Milan," Galliani said. "He has had the authorisation from Real Madrid to negotiate with other teams and there's absolutely no problem with the Spanish club executives."