Charlton calls for United to embrace Cup

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Sir Bobby Charlton will meet fellow Manchester United board members this week to persuade the club not to withdraw from this season's FA Cup. United have opted instead to play in the World Club Championship in Brazil in January, but the former Busby Babe believes the club has a "responsibility to the game" and should mount an FA Cup campaign.

Sir Bobby Charlton will meet fellow Manchester United board members this week to persuade the club not to withdraw from this season's FA Cup. United have opted instead to play in the World Club Championship in Brazil in January, but the former Busby Babe believes the club has a "responsibility to the game" and should mount an FA Cup campaign.

Also adding to the pressure from within Old Trafford was the Football Supporters' Association. It maintains that United's exit from the Worthington Cup could provide the club with an entry into the sport's most venerable competition and the FSA is drawing up a proposal which could see United remain in the FA Cup before the Football Association's deadline on 1 November.

Alison Pilling, the FSA chairman, believes that United's Worthington Cup defeat at Aston Villa has left Sir Alex Ferguson's side with room to manoeuvre their fixture list. "That they are not in the Worthington Cup any more means that there ought to be more flexibility in working out a solution," Pilling said.

"We very much welcome what Sir Bobby Charlton has said. We were thinking on the same lines - that there ought to be a way of working it out. The spaces left in the Worthington Cup may give enough leeway on that and we urge the FA to re-open the debate."

The FA Cup's sponsors, AXA, has also welcomed Sir Bobby's stance and believes that the stature of the 1966 World Cup-winner at Manchester United and within the game could yet persuade the club to re-join the FA Cup.

"We certainly haven't given up hope of United coming back into the competition," the company spokesman, Phil Hickley, said. "That somebody of Sir Bobby's standing in the game has expressed such a view is something we are delighted about."

Earlier Sir Bobby said that any decision on United's involvement in the competition would have to be made quickly. "I would like to see us play in the FA Cup and the cup in Brazil," he said. "I believe my club, Manchester United, has a responsibility to the history of the game in our country."

Southampton's former England striker David Hirst hopes to resume full training this week after undergoing four operations in the past 15 months to cure a long-term knee injury. Hirst, 32, has not started a game since May last year after damaging cruciate knee ligaments when he fell down a pot hole during pre-season training last summer.

The former Sheffield Wednesday striker underwent the last of the operations last month in an attempt to clean up damage to his knee. Hirst, who joined Saints for a club record £2m in September 1997, will see a specialist this week and expects to be granted clearance to resume his career. "It's been very frustrating for me over the last year or so," Hirst said, "but things are now going slowly but surely, hopefully."

Dave Jones, the Southampton manager, said: "The first season he was here he never missed a game and was absolutely flying but unfortunately since then he has picked up one or two injuries. No player wants that, but David is one of those players who has picked up an unfortunate injury which takes a long time to resolve itself. It's hard work for him but he's been through it before and we'll stand by him."

Meanwhile, Southampton have failed to overturn Kevin Davies' recent sending off against Leicester City. The striker received a red card for a late tackle on Gerry Taggart, but the FA's disciplinary committee has refused to overturn the decision of the referee Barry Knight.

Walter Smith, the Everton manager, has confirmed that Francis Jeffers could return to action in four weeks. The striker has only just returned to light training after a hernia repair operation but is poised to return for the Premiership game against Chelsea on 20 November. "It is a very realistic possibility. The recovery time for the operation is between four and six weeks and it depends on your progress," Smith said. "Chelsea or Aston Villa are possible dates for Francis to come back but we won't be rushing him."

Lee Peacock yesterday completed his £500,000 transfer to Manchester City from Mansfield Town. The 21-year-old forward had thought that a joke was being played on him.

"I got a phone call [on Monday] and the voice on the other end said: 'Hi Lee, it's Joe here'. I thought: 'Joe who'?"

The called was indeed the Manchester City manager, Joe Royle and a surprised Peacock said: "It was like a dream come true when it sank in."

Peacock, who has signed a three-year contract, plus the rest of this season, said: "I still feel shaky; it's happened so quickly to me. This is a great club. They play my kind of football with wingers which, as a striker, is ideal for me. I believe City will win [the First Division] and be a top Premiership side again. I just can't wait for my debut to help them on their way."

Peacock has a minor knee injury and will watch his team-mates take on their rivals for promotion, Ipswich Town, tonight at Maine Road. A victory would move City six points clear at the top.

Comments