Allardyce welcomes Bolton's early exit from FA Cup

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Sam Allardyce said goodbye to the FA Cup on Tuesday night with no regrets. In fact, the Bolton manager was almost buoyant.

"The bottom line is I am glad we are out," he said after Iain Hume's extra-time winner for Tranmere Rovers in their third-round replay earned the Second Division side a tie against Luton Town.

Allardyce does not believe his side has the squad numbers to compete in three competitions. The Premiership takes priority and then the Carling Cup, with Bolton facing Aston Villa over two legs.

"Our priorities lie in a certain order," he said. "Our squad can't cope with being in three very competitive competitions. Now I am glad we are out of the FA Cup because it would have been hard enough to beat Villa without an extra game in an already busy fixture schedule."

Allardyce fielded a number of Academy players and one of them, Ricky Shakes, came off the bench to score the equaliser. The goal came in stoppage time after Eugene Dadi had opened the scoring. But Hume had the last word with a blistering run and finish a minute into extra-time.

Allardyce is ready to pull off a couple of beat-the-deadline transfer moves after flying to France last night. He was hoping to see the Belgian left back Philippe Leonard play for Nice ahead of a possible free transfer. Leonard was due to join Bolton earlier in the season when he quit Monaco, but the club could not afford his wages at the time. Allardyce wants two new defenders and hopes Leonard, who is on a weekly contract at Nice, will be one. Bolton are also keen on Liverpool's Djimi Traore and could take Michael Gray on loan from Sunderland.

Hopes of offloading Mario Jardel were boosted by Espanyol who have renewed their interest in the Brazilian. Fellow Spanish strugglers Murcia also want a deal - but both clubs are looking for a loan which may be a problem as Bolton want a transfer fee.

Bolton were yesterday attempting to confirm reports from Africa that Jay-Jay Okocha may not play in the African Nations Cup. The Bolton playmaker had been quoted as saying he has invested funds in a bank in his homeland, which has run into difficulties and that he would return to Nigeria to resolve the problem rather than travelling to Tunisia.

A Nigerian FA spokesman said, however: "Okocha has given us his assurance he will be going to Tunisia."

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