Leeds' Kewell and Viduka committed to Olympic cause

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The Independent Football

Leeds face playing the first six weeks of the Premiership season without either of their Australians after Harry Kewell yesterday committed himself to Australia for the Olympic Games in Sydney next month.

Leeds face playing the first six weeks of the Premiership season without either of their Australians after Harry Kewell yesterday committed himself to Australia for the Olympic Games in Sydney next month.

The 21-year-old and Leeds' new signing Mark Viduka are anxious to play for the Olympic hosts and Leeds are powerless to stop them. Although Kewell is carrying an injury, he insists that will not rule him out of the Games. In his column in the Sydney Sunday Telegraph, Kewell said: "Those know-alls who have written me off for the Olympics are way off-beam. Sure I'm injured right now but contrary to reports I'm still hopeful of playing the first Premier League match of the season for Leeds at home to Everton on Saturday week. I'm still focused on the Olympic Games as much as I ever was."

Viduka, the striker bought for £6m from Celtic, yesterday confirmed he wanted to return home to Australia for the Games. He said: "I love playing for my country and it's very important for me to also play at home in the Sydney Olympics."

Kewell, Viduka and Leeds' third-choice goalkeeper Danny Milosevic have been asked by Soccer Australia to report for duty on 20 August, a day after the Premiership starts. Leeds, acutely aware of the impending problem, have already opened talks with Fifa, the game's world governing body, and Soccer Australia to reach a compromise on the release date.

Leeds were yesterday told that there was no way they would be signing the West Ham defender Rio Ferdinand. The Hammers' manager, Harry Redknapp, insisted he will not sell Ferdinand to Leeds - but admitted the picture might be different if Barcelona make a firm bid for him.

Ferdinand would command a £15m fee and Redknapp said: "If a club like Barcelona came in it might be different, but they haven't made any contact. I am told they are prepared to offer us £14m plus Winston Bogarde, but that doesn't make sense because I've already been offered the same player for less than £1m."

Bradford City yesterday announced they expect to make "the most exciting signing in the history of the club". The club have agreed terms with a striker who is set to sign tonight - and the controversial Italian Benito Carbone is the favourite to be unveiled.

Carbone, 28, is without a club after refusing to return to Aston Villa at the end of last season. Bradford's manager, Chris Hutchings, said: "The signing will raise a few eyebrows in the world of football."

The new signing should come as some consolation for Bradford fans, who saw Paulo Wanchope sign for one of their rivals yesterday. The Costa Rican secured a four-year deal at Manchester City, subject to passing a medical. The signing was confirmed by the City manager Joe Royle, who has paid a club-record fee of £3.65m to West Ham for the player.

Wanchope's arrival has pushed City's young striker Lee Peacock further down the pecking order, and the former Mansfield Town player is thinking over a £600,000 move to Bristol City.

Middlesbrough have received a work permit for the Croatian international striker Alen Boksic, thus completing his £2.5m transfer from Italian champions Lazio.

John Gregory, the Aston Villa manager, visited Spain at the weekend in an attempt to sign two players from his club's Intertoto Cup conquerors, Celta Vigo - the 22-year-old South African striker Benni McCarthy and the Russian midfielder Valery Karpin, 31. Villa, meanwhile, have confirmed that Chelsea have increased their bid for Gareth Southgate to £5m but maintain that they want £8m.

Kidderminster, the Football League newcomers, have offered terms to Ian Bogie, the midfielder freed by Port Vale.

Dundee United have reluctantly accepted the resignation of Paul Sturrock as manager of the club. They have turned to an interim managerial team of Scotland Under-21 coach Alex Smith, Sturrock's assistant John Blackley, and Maurice Malpas. Coventry and Nottingham Forest are in competition for the Hearts midfielder Colin Cameron.

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