Wilkinson rejects Shanghai offer

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The Independent Football

Howard Wilkinson, the former England caretaker-manager, has "reluctantly" turned down an offer to manage Shanghai Shenhua.

Wilkinson, who has been out of football since his sacking by Sunderland last season, was approached by the Chinese side but claims they were "the right club at the wrong time".

He said: "After a great deal of consideration due to existing commitments, it is with great reluctance that I have decided to turn down an offer to manage Shenhua of Shanghai."

Wilkinson, the chairman of the League Managers' Association, added: "It was an exciting opportunity in a city of 15 million people at a club which boasted a fantastic fan base.

"They were last season's champions and are backed by two of the biggest companies in China. The club and training facilities are superb and the all-round set-up is as good as anything I have seen anywhere.

"In many ways it would have been a tremendous challenge - it was the right club at the wrong time - and hopefully the opportunity may arise again. I wish them all best for the future."

The Sunderland manager, Mick McCarthy, is trying to sign the Scotland striker Andy Gray from Bradford City.

McCarthy has been checking on Gray for weeks but is now poised to bid around a bargain £100,000 for the much-travelled forward. Bradford are also ready to sell and have accepted McCarthy's verbal offer. They are waiting for the move to be pushed through today.

Rotherham United are also keen on Gray, who has found his best form at Bradford after a career that stuttered with Leeds United and Nottingham Forest. Bryan Robson's struggling club are being forced to sell as they have run into fresh financial problems.

The worried Yorkshire outfit may even have to go into administration for the second time in under two years because of a lack of funds.

Nick Chadwick, the Everton reserve striker, could find himself joining the expected summer exodus from Goodison Park. Ten players are out of contract and are likely to leave as the club look to cut costs and the 21-year-old Chadwick admits he sees his immediate future away from Merseyside.

He has twice been out on loan this season and has played only 15 games since September 2001 for Everton, such is the competition for striking positions at the club.

He said: "First-team football is most definitely still in my mind. I think it will be the case that I will probably go somewhere else. I've got to look at my career. I am 21 now and I have not played regular first-team football since the little run that I got at the end of 2002.

"But I have got to always look at the positive side of things and if I go out on loan and do really well I can do a lot of good for myself."

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