Harford offers pounds 4m for Flitcroft

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The Independent Online


Blackburn Rovers made two surprise moves in the transfer market yesterday, offering Manchester City pounds 4m for midfielder Garry Flitcroft and Grimsby Town pounds 1m for full-back Gary Croft.

Harford sees the 23-year-old Flitcroft as another component of plan to rebuild the champions into title challengers. Harford has been short of both quality and quantity in midfield since David Batty joined Newcastle United for pounds 3.75m earlier this month.

City, battling to stave off relegation, are likely to accept the offer to create funds for new signings. The loss for City is mitigated by the fact they were were expecting to lose Flitcroft for disciplinary reasons in the relegation run-in. He is due for a suspension and also has an appearance coming up before the FA that could lead to a ban. Blackburn's need is not so pressing.

Croft, a former England Under-21 defender, as an ideal replacement for Graeme Le Saux, who is recovering from a broken leg. Le Saux could be out for a further six months and Croft could have the chance to replace the England man in the long term.

There was good news for Manchester City with their second Georgian international, Michael Kavelashvili, being granted a work permit allowing the striker to join their battle to avoid the drop, starting with their trip to the bottom club, Bolton, on Saturday week.

City agreed to pay the Russian champions, Spartak Vladikavkaz, pounds 1.4m for the striker after spotting him when they signed his international team-mate Georgi Kinkladze from Dynamo Tiblisi last summer.

Bolton aim to have a new goalkeeper in time to face Sheffield Wednesday this Saturday, because Keith Branagan has been ruled out for the rest of the season by a knee injury he suffered in a training accident. Their manager, Colin Todd, yesterday had a pounds 300,000 offer for Bradford City's Gavin Ward turned down. Wanderers only have one fit senior keeper, Aidan Davison.

Bolton are giving trials to two Manchester City reserves, centre-half John Bentley and midfielder Ged Kielty.

Sheffield United's manager, Howard Kendall, returned to one of his former clubs, Everton, to recruit a new coach in succession to Adrian Heath, recently appointed as manager of Burnley. John Bailey, who appeared in the Everton FA Cup-winning team of 1984, which Kendall managed, has been appointed initially until the end of the season, when his position will be reviewed.

The future of the 38-year-old, who also played for Blackburn, Newcastle and Bristol City, could well depend on the outcome of the Blades' fight against relegation from the First Division.

Falkirk's David Elliot believes the departure of the club's manager, John Lambie, could provide the spur to keep the club in the Scottish Premier Division next season.

Elliot, Lambie's first major signing after he took up the post in August, said he was sad to see his manager go. "But there is still a belief among the players that we can avoid the drop. We will be doing our best because they will have to play for their places for Gerry Collins, who is in charge until the end of the season."

n Diego Maradona will not play for Boca Juniors this weekend because of "inhumane" playing conditions in summer. "No way. I'm not going to play in this heat," the 35-year-old midfielder said. "People will say Maradona is shooting his mouth off again, that he's talking rubbish, that he doesn't want to play because he's too old ... But I'm not turning up Sunday."