Mandaric warns off O'Neil's Premiership suitors

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The Independent Football

Portsmouth have rejected a number of enquiries about their England Under-21 international captain, Gary O'Neil, one of which is believed to have come from Liverpool. The London-born midfielder has been one of few successes in a tough start to the season with Alain Perrin's side struggling in the Premiership. Wigan are also believed to be interested in the £2.5m-rated O'Neil, but the Portsmouth chairman, Milan Mandaric, said: "I want him to stay.

"There have been three or four enquiries from top Premiership clubs, but O'Neil is a Portsmouth boy and I want to keep him here," said Mandaric. "There are big clubs hovering around, but I want him to stay. I want his future to be nowhere else but Portsmouth. We have to build a team here and it would send out the wrong message to sell him."

The Rangers manager, Alex McLeish, and Crystal Palace's Iain Dowie are the latest names to be linked to Fratton Park with Perrin's position as Portsmouth manager the subject of intense speculation after just four wins in 21 games have made him, statistically, the worst manager in the club's history.

Sheffield United's Neil Warnock remains the favourite, however, to take charge before the end of the season, or sooner. Mandaric has made no secret of his admiration for the Yorkshireman. But Perrin looks set to hold on to his job until at least Saturday's home game against champions Chelsea and perhaps even the following weekend's trip to Manchester United.

Portsmouth are furious with the Uruguayan Football Association after Dario Silva missed the team's flight to Liverpool on Friday evening. The striker was due back from Uruguay's World Cup play-off against Australia in Sydney on Friday morning, having been on the bench for the entire game, which they lost in a penalty shoot-out.

Uruguay turned down a request to send him straight home.Silva had to travel via Montevideo and did not arrive back in England until late on Friday night. The Portsmouth chief executive, Peter Storrie, said: "The Uruguayan FA clearly had no intention of getting him back here on time despite what they told us. It is totally disrespectful."

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