Gough prepares to delay retirement plans

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The Independent Online

Richard Gough is ready to battle on for one last comeback with Everton - and save his manager Walter Smith from a short-term buy.

Richard Gough is ready to battle on for one last comeback with Everton - and save his manager Walter Smith from a short-term buy.

The veteran former Scotland captain plans to go through a rehabilitation programme after checks on his lateral knee ligament damage, but the signs are that his cruciate ligament is not torn. If that had happened he would have retired.

Gough could return in about two months, which means Smith will not now have to rush in to buy a replacement. He had already moved for the Scotland captain Colin Hendry, who is available at Coventry City.

However, Smith still has problems as David Weir and David Unsworth have been shaky in Gough's absence, and he is also committed to selling Richard Dunne to Wimbledon.

Abel Xavier is also out of action and Smith needs to strengthen his squad, but Gough's absence may now be short enough to give him time to study the market.

Leeds United do not expect to make any new signings before Friday's transfer deadline for the Champions' League after failing in a final bid to sign Monaco's Norwegian international midfielder John Arne Riise.

Leeds had looked set to bring Riise to Elland Road a month ago having agreed a fee of around £4m with the French champions, who then increased their asking price at the last minute.

With Riise's personal demands also proving difficult for Leeds to match, they have been forced to pull out. "John Arne Riise will not be a Leeds United player this season," said the Elland Road chairman, Peter Ridsdale, yesterday. "Monaco are refusing to sell him at any price."

Leeds will definitely be without Mark Viduka for seven matches after next Tuesday's Premiership fixture with Manchester City. Soccer Australia has refused a request from Leeds to withdraw Viduka from the Olympic Games side, with the 24-year-old one of three over-age players in the squad.

"It's very, very frustrating," the former Celtic striker said. "The Olympics is going to be a big thing in Australia, but I'm extremely disappointed that I won't be able to play in the Champions' League games. I've always dreamed of playing in the Nou Camp against Barcelona. It will be a great occasion."

Burnley are set to sign the Tranmere Rovers captain Wayne Allison for £250,000, while Preston North End have had a work permit application for the Bermudan international striker Steve Atwood turned down.

Stanislav Varga was yesterday hoping to resurrect his Sunderland career after undergoing surgery twice in as many days. The 27-year-old Slovakian central defender was due to leave hospital last night following a second operation to assess the extent of internal bleeding he suffered after injuring a knee in the 4-2 defeat at Manchester City last Wednesday. The news was encouraging and he may now be back in action within six weeks.

Sheffield United are having discussions with Inverness Caledonian Thistle about a partnership arrangement which could see Bramall Lane players being loaned out to the Scottish First Division club.

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