Bowyer set to sign new contract

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The Independent Online

Lee Bowyer is poised to pledge his future to Leeds United by signing a new five-year deal just a week after being placed on the transfer list.

The Leeds chairman, Peter Ridsdale, has revealed a contract is now ready for Bowyer to sign following the midfielder's acquittal on charges of affray and grievous bodily harm with intent in relation to an assault on a student nearly two years ago.

"A new deal has been on the table for the last four months because we have been conscious of the fact he only had 18 months of his present contract to run," said Ridsdale. "Negotiations were put on hold because of the present circumstances and we agreed that nothing would be signed until after the verdicts. With Lee found not guilty of all charges in court I don't now envisage a problem with him."

Bowyer is set to earn a bumper pay-rise from his current £16,000-per-week to £25,000-per-week on a contract that will take him up until the summer of 2006.

It is all in stark contrast to just seven days ago when the situation looked bleak for Bowyer as he was put up for sale for failing to accept the club's disciplinary sanctions.

Bowyer was accused of breaking Leeds' strict code of conduct for being drunk on the night of the attack on Sarfraz Najeib, but the 24-year-old was insistent he had done nothing wrong and accused Leeds of victimisation, claiming they were forcing him out of Elland Road. Just 48 hours later Bowyer had a change of heart and agreed to pay the four-week fine of £64,000 as well as undertake extra community work for the club.

The Manchester City manager, Kevin Keegan, is ready to forgive Steve Howey and put him straight back into the side after his fine for drinking.

Howey comes back from injury to face West Brom in the promotion clash at Maine Road today just a few days after being docked a week's wages. Keegan needs the tough defender, who has been missing for a month, and has decided to settle the dispute and their differences. Howey had been punished for being spotted drinking in a wine bar where Keegan dines when he was trying to recover from an injury.

However, Keegan may not forget too easily. He wants a new "commanding" centre-half and Howey will have to prove his worth or be replaced. But in the meantime Keegan needs him fit and playing as Lucien Mettomo is on African Nations' Cup duty.

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