Royle hoping to lure Ferrer to Manchester

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The Independent Football

Joe Royle wants Chelsea's out-of-favour Spanish defender Albert Ferrer to be his next signing. The Manchester City manager sees Ferrer as the ideal replacement for his out-of-favour former captain Richard Edghill, and is preparing to make a £1.2m bid.

Joe Royle wants Chelsea's out-of-favour Spanish defender Albert Ferrer to be his next signing. The Manchester City manager sees Ferrer as the ideal replacement for his out-of-favour former captain Richard Edghill, and is preparing to make a £1.2m bid.

Ferrer has not been a regular member of Gianluca Vialli's squad this season and now appears to be the third-choice right back at Stamford Bridge. Precisely why is a mystery to the former Barcelona player, who is considering returning to Spain, but City are keen to step in for him at the right price.

Royle has short-listed Ferrer for the position that has become a problem since the Maine Road crowd turned on Edghill. Ferrer's ability to defend and get forward appeals to Royle, who will switch between a back four and a back five this season.

The only possible snags are personal terms and persuading the 30-year-old to head north.

Meanwhile, Edghill's days at City look numbered. The long-serving defender has lost his confidence because of his treatment by the fans. Royle may be forced to sell the player in order to resolve the situation, with Birmingham City keeping an eye on developments.

The St-Etienne defender Lucien Mettomo is threatening to quit the club after they rejected Blackburn Rovers' £5m offer yesterday. Mettomo is apparently ready to walk out of the club return to his native Cameroon because he is so upset about St-Etienne's refusal to sell him.

The Cameroon international wants to come to England and sees Blackburn as his ideal next move, but St-Etienne are apparently hoping to offload him to an Italian club for more money next summer.

The Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler's hopes of a return to action have been dealt a blow after last night's reserve match against Sheffield Wednesday was called off. Fowler has yet to make an appearance for the Reds' first team this season after picking up a knee injury in pre-season.

The former Wales and Everton goalkeeper Neville Southall has applied for the vacant manager's job at the Icelandic side Fram Reykjavik.

Southall should know soon whether or not he has been successful as Fram have said they will name their new manager after Saturday's final league match.

Fram could be a Second Division club by then as they will be relegated from the top flight if they lose their final game against Breidablik.

Southall, who was one of Wales' coaches under Bobby Gould, was impressed by Icelandic football when he helped Ian Rush run a football academy on the island during the summer.

A spokeswoman for Ipswich Hospital said yesterday that the Aston Villa striker Luc Nilis was in a "comfortable and stable" condition following the compound fracture of the right leg which he sustained against Ipswich Town on Saturday. The Belgian international continuing to receive treatment for the breaks to his tibia and fibula.

The Ipswich game was only four minutes old when an innocent collision with Richard Wright left Nilis writhing in agony. He is expected to stay in hospital for the next few days, and Ipswich players are hoping to visit the Villa striker.

The spokeswoman said: "Telephone calls and cards from well-wishers are already starting to come into the hospital from football supporters in England and Belgium."

Villa's chairman, Doug Ellis, was yesterday unanimously re-elected as a director of the Villa plc. The ballot, called by Ellis following his defeat at last Friday's AGM, when the 76-year-old failed to get the necessary support via a show of hands and was jeered at the meeting, attended by around 200 shareholders, was open to all shareholders and conducted on a "one share, one vote" basis.

Of the 5,662,262 votes cast, 5,580,976 were in favour of Ellis' re-election, with only 81,286 against.

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