Wanchope strike puts pressure on Fowler

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The Independent Football

Paolo Wanchope is putting pressure on Robbie Fowler for a place in the Manchester City side after christening the new City of Manchester stadium with a terrific goal yesterday.

The Costa Rican striker scored a spectacular flying volley as City's second team beat the first XI in a practice match on their new turf.

Wanchope, who is back in action after a season-long absence with knee problems, is now pushing his claim to play alongside Nicolas Anelka in the friendly against Barcelona on Sunday. The out-of-form Fowler may be rested for that match after he toiled in a game which the second-string won 2-1.

Kevin Keegan, the Manchester City manager, has a number of selection issues to resolve before the Premier League season kicks off a week tomorrow, but the biggest decision he will have to take concerns who plays up front, and Wanchope may have won the vote with a performance and stunning goal that impressed his manager.

Keegan also fielded his new signings David Seaman, Michael Tarnat, Paul Bosvelt and Antoine Sibierski in his first team for the game that was used as a rehearsal for the Barça fixture.

But the out-of-favour Eyal Berkovic was the pick of the midfielders, although he could yet be sold before the start of the season.

Sam Allardyce, the Bolton Wanderers manager, will decide at the weekend whether to offer Ibrahim Ba a contract. The former AC Milan midfielder played for half-an-hour in the friendly against Real Mallorca on Wednesday.

Gary Speed, the veteran Newcastle United midfielder, has signed a one-year extension to his contract at St James' Park. The Wales international will now remain at the north-east club until 2004.