Chelsea set for £8m Dunn bid

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Chelsea are ready to test the resolve of the Blackburn Rovers manager, Graeme Souness, by bidding £8m for the England Under-21 captain, David Dunn, whom they see as a replacement for the Milan-bound Sam Dalla Bona.

Dunn has been a great success at Ewood Park in the past couple of seasons and has been tipped to force his way into Sven Goran Eriksson's England World Cup squad. However, Blackburn's local hero has recently been left out by Souness on occasions and a deal is not impossible.

Chelsea will move for Dunn shortly as they expect to sell Dalla Bona to Milan for around £7m when the Italian transfer window opens. The Blues' manager, Claudio Ranieri, has given the go-ahead to launch a bid for Dunn, with transfer dealings at Chelsea being conducted by club officials.

Souness has plenty of midfield players and could afford to lose Dunn, but any sale would be highly unpopular with the club's fans. News of Chelsea's interest may also stir other clubs who have tracked Dunn's progress. Newcastle United have been watching him closely all season.

Two French strikers were yesterday ending unhappy spells with north-east clubs. Sunderland's Lilian Laslandes joined the Bundesliga side Cologne on loan until the end of the season with a view to a permanent transfer, while Middlesbrough's Joseph-Desiré Job made a loan switch back to France with Metz.

Laslandes, a 30-year-old French international, had only started five Premiership games since his £3.6m summer move from Bordeaux. Job arrived at the Riverside stadium from Lens in a £3m move in 2000 when Bryan Robson was still manager at the Riverside, but has found himself surplus to requirements since Steve McClaren took over last summer.

McClaren said: "It was unfortunate that Joseph couldn't command a first-team place with us, but he's too good a player not to be getting first-team football and this is a good move for him. We wish him all the best during his time with Metz."

Michael Owen is a major doubt for Liverpool's Premiership game at Southampton tomorrow because of an ankle injury. The England striker was hurt during Saturday's 3-0 FA Cup third-round victory over Birmingham City and was substituted. Owen attended the club's Melwood training ground yesterday for treatment.

"Michael took a kick on his ankle which is why we had to bring him off," said Liverpool's assistant manager, Phil Thompson. "His ankle is badly swollen so he is a big doubt for us. At this stage it's only touch and go that he'll make it."