Celtic's Petta in talks over Fulham move

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The Independent Football

Celtic's forgotten man, Bobby Petta, held talks with Fulham about a move to the Premiership yesterday. The pacy Dutchman, who is comfortable on either wing, has not figured in Martin O'Neill's plans this season and is being allowed to leave for a bargain fee.

Petta has a good reputation in England from his time with Ipswich. Celtic want around £200,000 for his signature, and Fulham can afford the fee and his wages. His sale would help Celtic to make a couple of new signings.

Nottingham Forest's Andy Reid and Motherwell's Stephen Pearson are both wanted by O'Neill and selling Petta also creates an opportunity for the two left-footed players.

Manchester City are seeking £1m for Darren Huckerby but may have to give the unhappy striker most of the money back to make him leave. City are paying such high wages that Nationwide League clubs cannot afford to take their unwanted players.

Norwich, West Bromwich Albion and now Wigan all want Huckerby, but the price consists a £500,000 initial payment, followed by a promotion bonus of £250,000 and a further £250,000 after 75 games. Huckerby, who is on £22,000 a week at City, would probably require most of that transfer fee to be given to him as a golden handshake to make up for his drop in wages in the First Division.

West Bromwich's highest-paid player is on £500,000-a-year, and Norwich are hoping to find corporate backers to underwrite their offer, while even relatively wealthy Wigan would struggle to pay much more than £10,000-a-week. That leaves a £600,000-a-year shortfall for Huckerby, who will sit out his contract under Kevin Keegan rather than take a massive pay cut.

City are reluctant to pay Huckerby an excessive amount to leave and if he stays at the club, they may decide to loan him out. Sources at West Brom think that the move is too expensive and is unlikely to happen, while Norwich are already making plans for other players. Wigan, who have more funds than their rivals, could win the race, but fear that Huckerby does not want to join them full-time.

The Wigan manager, Paul Jewell, is making a club record £1.7m bid to bring the Southampton striker Brett Ormerod back to the North-West. The former Blackpool striker wants to return to his native Lancashire for personal reasons.