Whelan offers apology for D'Urso remarks

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The Independent Football

The Middlesbrough striker Noel Whelan has made an apology to the referee Andy D'Urso over comments he made after his side's recent 2-1 defeat at Arsenal.

The 27-year-old was quoted as suggesting D'Urso must have been under the influence of alcohol not to have spotted Thierry Henry's foul on Paul Ince. But he insisted that his comments were made off the record and never intended for publication.

"I would like to offer my apologies to Mr D'Urso if my words have caused him any offence," he said.

The Hibernian manager, Franck Sauzée, says that he has no intention of taking the unsettled Aston Villa striker David Ginola to Easter Road. The flamboyant Frenchman has been linked with a loan move to the Edinburgh club, but Sauzée maintains that he has enough talent in his squad without drafting in his former team-mate.

"I have the greatest respect for David. We know each other well as we started our careers at the same time but that does not mean he will play for us," Sauzée said. "It is difficult for me to see him in Scotland and with Hibs, and I haven't spoken to him or anyone about trying to bring him to Easter Road."

Robbie Savage has been ordered not to talk to the media by Dave Bassett, the Leicester City manager. Bassett has decided to adopt a no-nonsense approach with the Wales international, who often courts controversy on the pitch and is regularly the subject of terrace chants around the country.

"He's got to get on with things and he's not talking to anybody because I've told him I don't want him to," Bassett said. "I've just said to him 'shut your gob up and get some games under your belt – and then you'll be able to talk about that side of your game in preference to what's gone on before'."

Savage said he agreed with his manager's decision. "I'm my own worst enemy sometimes and I do feel now it's time to withdraw a little from the media spotlight," he said. "I've spoken about the situation with the manager and we both agree it's for the best."

The Charlton Athletic defender Daniel Shittu has completed a £350,000 transfer to Queen's Park Rangers. The 21-year-old had previously been on loan at Loftus Road. Rangers will pay an initial £250,000 with the fee rising in instalments.

First Division Portsmouth have announced that their assistant manager, Jim Duffy, has left the club. Duffy, who joined Pompey after Graham Rix was appointed manager last February, has stepped down by mutual consent following Saturday's 4-1 home defeat in the third round of the FA Cup to Third Division Leyton Orient.

"I want to wish the chairman, Graham and the players every success in the future," Duffy said. "I have enjoyed every second of my time in Portsmouth. There are personal reasons which have contributed to my leaving, in that I want to spend more time with my family in Scotland."

Billy Dearden was yesterday appointed the new manager of Second Division Notts County, a day after leaving Mansfield Town. Dearden takes over from Gary Brazil, who will remain at Meadow Lane as coach and will also take over as director of youth operations.

The Magpies' deputy chairman, Peter Storrie, approached Mansfield for Dearden's services last month, and compensation has been agreed with the Third Division club.

Storrie said: "We would like to thank Keith Haslam [the Mansfield chairman] for his professionalism throughout this move.

"We'd like to welcome Billy, his experience in the game will be invaluable to the club, and we hope this will take Notts County forward over the coming months and years."

Arsenal and Liverpool, last year's FA Cup finalists, have been drawn together in the outstanding tie of the fourth round. Manchester United, who came from 2-0 down to beat Aston Villa 3-2 in a dramatic third-round tie on Sunday, will be away to the winners of tonight's Wimbledon v Middlesbrough match. Cardiff, the conquerors of Leeds, must travel to Southend or Tranmere.



FOURTH ROUND (Weekend of 26 and 27 January): Arsenal v Liverpool; Brighton or Preston v Sheffield Utd; Charlton v Walsall or Bradford City; Rotherham or Southampton v Crewe or Sheffield Wednesday; Southend or Tranmere v Cardiff; Gillingham v Bristol Rovers; Grimsby or York v Wycombe or Fulham; Darlington or Peterborough v Newcastle; Norwich or Chelsea v West Ham; Coventry or Tottenham v Stockport or Bolton; Millwall v Barnsley or Blackburn; Cheltenham v Burnley; Everton v Leyton Orient; West Bromwich v Leicester; Wimbledon or Middlesbrough v Manchester Utd; Ipswich v Manchester City.

THIRD ROUND (Tonight): Southend v Tranmere; Walsall v Bradford City; Wimbledon v Middlesbrough; Wycombe v Fulham. (Tuesday 15 January): Brighton v Preston; Crewe v Sheffield Wednesday; Darlington v Peterborough. (Wednesday 16 January): Coventry v Tottenham; Rotherham v Southampton Stockport v Bolton.

THIRD-ROUND REPLAYS (Tuesday 15 January): York v Grimsby. (Wednesday 16 January): Blackburn v Barnsley; Chelsea v Norwich (live on Sky Sports).