Football in brief: 04/03/2009

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The Independent Football

De la Cruz earns one-month deal after trial

Birmingham City manager Alex McLeish has handed Ecuadorian defender Ulises De la Cruz a one-month contract after a successful trial.

The 35-year-old, who has appeared 98 times for his country, joins the Blues until 2 April having trained with the club for several weeks. Subject to paperwork, De la Cruz (above) will be available for tonight's home game with Bristol City. De la Cruz began his career in Britain with Hibernian in 2001 and the following season joined Aston Villa, where he spent four years, before moving to Reading in 2006.

Setanta at risk of losing FA Cup

Setanta could risk losing its rights to show live matches from the FA Cup after it reportedly delayed making a £10m payment on its contract. Reports said yesterday that Setanta was withholding a scheduled instalment in an attempt to re-negotiate its £275m contract. ITV, who announces its annual results today, is also believed to be seeking to reschedule payments for its rights.

Palace fixtures 'totally wrong'

Neil Warnock has described the fixture congestion facing his side as "totally wrong". The Eagles manager is particularly unhappy with away trips to Burnley, Swansea and Barnsley in under a week. The run of games starting next Wednesday will force the club's supporters, to cover 1,200 miles in six days.

Sharp may miss rest of season

Sheffield United: Striker Billy Sharp could be ruled out for the rest of the season because of a groin injury. Sharp is expected to be out for up to six weeks and is unlikely to feature before the end of April. Loan signing John-Joe O'Toole could be in line for an earlier-than-expected debut as a result at Coventry tonight.