Boro stall Boateng bid over work permit worry

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Middlesbrough are putting their £6m bid for the Ghanaian striker Derek Boateng on hold because of worries over obtaining a work permit for the 18-year-old.

The Boro manager, Steve McClaren, wants the talented youngster, who plays for the Greek side Panathinaikos, but Boateng has only won five caps for his country so far and that may not be enough to get him a permit to play in the Premiership.

Boateng is rated one of the best teenage players in the world, but he needs to have played in 75 per cent of Ghana's internationals over the past two years. Middlesbrough could get a permit for him on appeal, but that is a lengthy process which will take them until close to the transfer deadline.

Boro cannot risk that wait as they fight for their Premiership lives and chase a possible FA Cup final date in the next few weeks. Now McClaren has put the move for Boateng on ice until the summer, but he could lose the young African to other clubs. Lazio and Barcelona want to sign Boateng and do not have the same work permit problems.

The Manchester United reserve goalkeeper Raimond van der Gouw has said he may leave Old Trafford in an attempt to get regular first-team football. With Fabien Barthez the automatic No 1, the Dutchman is now third choice after the summer signing of the Northern Ireland international Roy Carroll from Wigan Athletic.

Van der Gouw has spent most of his six years with the English champions as a back-up, first to Peter Schmeichel, but now he rarely even makes the bench. Since joining from Vitesse Arnhem in 1996 he has made only 36 appearances and this season has played just 45 minutes – in the 4-0 League Cup defeat by Arsenal in November.

The 38-year-old, whose United contract is up at the end of the season, is keen to continue playing and is considering looking elsewhere for the chance to start regularly. "I still feel that I can play one, two or three years at a high level," he said. "I will try to play for as long as possible and if there is a club that want me then I can talk to them. "

Stephen Wright has ended speculation linking him with a move away from Liverpool by signing a new three-year contract. The England Under-21 international – who has made nine first team appearances this year – was nearing the end of his contract this summer.

The versatile 22-year-old right-back, a graduate of the Liverpool Youth Academy, has followed in the recent footsteps of Michael Owen, Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Dietmar Hamann by pledging his future to the Anfield club.

Chelsea's France defender Marcel Desailly has been ordered by doctors to rest for 10 days after tearing a thigh muscle in Sunday's FA Cup win over Preston North End.

Desailly, whose season has been disrupted by injury, was forced to come off in the second half of the 3-1 fifth-round victory at Stamford Bridge after a sudden sprint resulted in him pulling up with a pain in his left thigh. "I had a scan the next day which diagnosed a small tear on the back of the thigh," the 33-year-old centre-back said. "Chelsea's doctors say I need to rest it completely for 10 days. Luckily it won't inconvenience the club too much because we have a two-week break before our next match on March 2 at Charlton."

Chelsea are spending £125,000 on resurfacing their pitch after Desailly complained about their initial attempt to paint the mud green. After four home games in December and six in January, the surface at Stamford Bridge deteriorated quickly in the bad weather.

The Chelsea manager, Claudio Ranieri, was caught on camera last weekend expressing his disgust at the pitch and the players feared that their performances were suffering. A decision was taken on Monday to lay a new surface, with preparations being made yesterday and the re-turfing starting today.

The new pitch will be ready for Chelsea's next home game on 6 March. Chelsea's managing director, Colin Hutchinson, said: "The turf has come from the same fields in Lincolnshire as the Old Trafford resurfacing was taken from. It is like carpets being rolled out."

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