Brown makes timely return for United

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The Independent Football

Wes Brown is ready to make an unexpected return for Manchester United, after fearing that his season had been ended by a freak repeat of a career-threatening injury.

The England defender has told the United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, that he is waiting for the first-team call, only two months after he faced a year out with a second crippling cruciate ligament problem.

Brown strode through his comeback for United's reserves against Oldham on Thursday night, never flinching from tackles and spraying passes around. He may even make a double-quick appearance at Middlesbrough today as a substitute and could start against Bolton Wanderers on Tuesday.

Brown's appearance has probably saved Ferguson from entering the transfer market. He was drawing up plans to buy a player eligible for the Champions' League.

The United manager has said that he is confident that David Beckham will sign a new contract. The club's chief executive, Peter Kenyon, said earlier this week that after eight months of talks, negotiations had stalled. However, Ferguson said: "Peter Kenyon is dealing with that and I just hope everything is sorted out because I know David wants to stay. I'm sure it will come to a settlement." Kenyon did concede, however, that discussions will soon have to be shelved until after the World Cup if there is no breakthrough.

Juan Sebastian Veron said that contrary to reports, he does not intend to leave United to return to Lazio. "It hasn't entered my head to leave Manchester United," the Argentinian said. "I don't think even in three months I will want to leave. I know I'm at a big club. Manchester United is an institution and I'm happy here."

Corrado Grabbi has given up his hopes of making a career at Blackburn Rovers, as he tries to force a return to Italy's Serie B with Reggina. The striker is keen to join the club on loan for the season and still has a chance of a move as the transfer window for the second division is still open.

Reggina do not have the money to buy Grabbi, who cost Blackburn £6m when he joined them from Ternana last summer. However, Rovers may decide to let him leave on loan in order to boost his transfer value as the player's form has dipped so badly since his spell in England began.

The Arsenal goalkeeper Alex Manninger does not want to return to the Gunners when his loan spell ends at Fiorentina. The 24-year-old, who has signed a temporary contract, said: "I want to save Fiorentina and remain in Florence."

Derby County have taken two Parma players on trial. The managerless Pride Park outfit have brought in the midfield duo Giampiero Maini and Belarussian Sergei Gurenko from the Serie A club who are confident that a more permanent deal will go through.

Graham Poll will referee the Worthington Cup final between Blackburn Rovers and Tottenham Hotspur next month.

Burnley have completed the signing of the striker Robbie Blake from Bradford City in a deal worth an initial £1m until the end of the 2005/06 season. Bradford will receive an additional £250,000 if Burnley win promotion to the Premiership.

Swansea City have been taken over by a consortium of local businessmen and fans led by the former Wales international Mel Nurse. The consortium has acquired all the shares of the previous major shareholder, Tony Petty, who has resigned from the club.

Alaves have terminated the contract of Christopher Kanu after the Nigerian defender, the younger brother of Arsenal striker Nwankwo, was over a week late in returning from an international training camp.

The Crystal Palace winger Andrejs Rubins has returned to the club after failing to win a contract with the French side Troyes.