Stam targets end of year for comeback

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The Manchester United defender Jaap Stam intends returning to action for the Premiership champions by the beginning of next year after making strong progress from an Achilles operation.

The Manchester United defender Jaap Stam intends returning to action for the Premiership champions by the beginning of next year after making strong progress from an Achilles operation.

The Dutch international said on his personal website: "My ankle is coming along very well. I no longer have anything on my foot and I'm not using crutches.

"I'm going to United's training ground at Carrington each day as part of my recovery, doing exercises to help strengthen the Achilles. The physios are pleased with my progress... I should be back in contention for a place in the first team at the turn of the year."

The Coventry goalkeeper, Chris Kirkland, has escaped a one-match ban after referee Stephen Lodge decided he was wrong to send off the player for a foul on Chelsea's Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink in the 6-1 defeat on 21 October.

But the Barnsley official, after watching the match video, felt his decision had been harsh and asked the Football Association's disciplinary commission to overturn the decision. The commission agreed.

Uefa has revoked one of two yellow cards issued to the Rangers defender Arthur Numan during a Champions' League match against Sturm Graz, and imposed a three-match ban on Ajax's Brazilian striker Wamberto.

The governing body cited "an exceptional situation" in overturning Numan's first card in the match last Wednesday, a decision which means his automatic one-match ban is reversed. Numan will be available for the Scottish club's home match against Monaco next week. It ruled that the match official made a technical error with the card, which was shown when Numan returned to the pitch after being treated for an injury.

"When given the green light by the referee, he entered the pitch and, as fortune - or misfortune - would have it, he immediately found himself in a position to intercept a pass directed at a Sturm Graz player," Uefa said in a statement.

Rangers, who had four players yellow-carded in the match, were fined 6,000 Swiss francs (£1,600) for "incorrect conduct".

In another decision made by Uefa, the Ajax player Wamberto was suspended for three European matches for kicking an opponent during an interruption in play in last week's Uefa Cup match against Lausanne of Switzerland. The Dutch team lost 1-0.

Michael Bauer, of Tirol Innsbruck, was handed a four-match ban for "improper conduct toward the referee" during last week's match against the German club VfB Stuttgart. The VfB Stuttgart defender Jens Todt was banned for one match.

Croatia's Dynamo Zagreb were fined 10,000 francs (£3,700) for racist chanting by their supporters during last week's Uefa Cup home match against Parma of Italy.

The Cypriot First Division club Omonia Nicosia said that the former Everton manager, Howard Kendall, had changed his mind about joining them, only hours after agreeing to boost their flagging fortunes.

A club spokesman, Loris Kyriakou, said Kendall had on Tuesday agreed to come to Cyprus, but that he had a change of heart four hours later.

The club, who won the Cyprus Cup last season and were runners-up in the league, said that Kendall had cited family problems for turning down the position.

The Football Association has gone down the same route it used to recruit David Davies, now its executive director, in appointing the BBC reporter Paul Newman as its new head of communications.

Newman, currently sports correspondent for BBC News, will take over his new post in the next couple of months and will become one of the most visible public faces of the governing body.

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