Vialli admits desire to come back to England with Spurs

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The Independent Football

Gianluca Vialli has announced he would be interested in taking over from Glenn Hoddle as Tottenham manager - but said it would not be up to him to make the first move.

The former Chelsea and Watford manager, who is currently working as a television pundit in Italy, said, "Everyone knows I'm available but I don't like making approaches. If they feel I'm the right man I would be happy to sit down and talk about it."

Vialli has not worked in English football for more than a year since being sacked by Watford in June 2003. Before that he managed Chelsea for two years, during which time he won the European Cup Winners' Cup and European Super Cup, as well as the League Cup and the FA Cup.

Another person linked to the Spurs job settled his immediate future yesterday. Alex McLeish has signed a four-year deal at Rangers, laying to rest any notion that he may be southbound.

The former Scotland international has enjoyed phenomenal success after taking over an ailing team from Dick Advocaat in December 2001. He secured a domestic cup double in his first few months before taking the treble last year in his first full campaign.

Elsewhere, Mark Hughes could attempt to prevent suspensions blighting Wales' Euro 2004 play-off chances when he picks his side to face Serbia and Montenegro at the Millennium Stadium next month.

The Wales coach has called up Andy Johnson, Darren Barnard, Mark Pembridge, Andy Melville and Robert Page to his squad, despite the quintet all facing a suspension worry. All five are currently a booking away from a one-match ban, which would come into force for the first leg of Wales' Euro 2004 qualifying play-off.

Hughes' side can mathematically win their group, but that will only happen if they beat Serbia and Montenegro and Italy fail to beat Azerbaijan. With automatic qualification unlikely, Hughes may opt to rest some or all of those players. Page is a doubt anyway, with the Sheffield United defender suffering from an ankle injury.

"I have a team in mind that I want to play, and one that I expect to beat Serbia," said Hughes. "But I know I have to take account of the situation over cautions, because yellow cards in the group matches are carried forward to the play-offs. I do not want to see people picking up bookings and ruling themselves out of the play-offs."

The Manchester United central defender Wes Brown is on course to return to the squad by the new year. Brown is back in light training after being out of action since the final day of last season, when he injured his cruciate knee ligament against Everton.

"We've always said late December to early January, and realistically that is still the case," Brown said. "That still seems like a long way off. Up to now, though, I think I'm on course. The recovery is going fine. I've starting running now, which is a good sign."

Sunderland have completed the signing of the former Watford striker Tommy Smith, hoping the 23-year-old can reach the heights scaled by another Vicarage Road old boy on Wearside. The 23-year-old, who was out of contract after rejecting a new deal from Watford, has spent a fortnight on trial at the Stadium of Light and has completed a permanent move after passing a medical yesterday afternoon.

He was due to make his first appearance in a Sunderland shirt when the reserves took on their Everton counterparts in Durham last night but is unlikely to play against Reading on Saturday as he is not match fit. If he can do half as much for the side as Kevin Phillips did following his £650,000 switch from Vicarage Road over six years ago, Mick McCarthy will be delighted. "If he's half as successful as the other fella, then he'll be all right, won't he?" McCarthy said.