Juninho permit held up

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All those newly bought Brazilian shirts might have to stay in their wardrobes for at least another fortnight: Juninho may not be making his Middlesbrough debut this weekend after all.

Bryan Robson's pounds 4.5m purchase from Sao Paulo was expected to make his first appearance for his new club at home to Leeds United on Saturday - subject to Middlesbrough receiving an international clearance certificate.

That, it seems, has been delayed at the Brazilian end. Dave Allan, a press spokesman for Middlesbrough, said: "It is a frustrating situation for the player and the club. Juninho arrived in England last weekend and has trained with us for the past three days. But we have not yet heard from the Brazilian Football Association."

Saturday's match is already a 30,000 sell-out and, if the clearance fails to arrive in time, Juninho's debut will be delayed for a further fortnight until 18 November, when Middlesbrough travel to Selhurst Park to meet Wimbledon. He will miss Wednesday's Coca-Cola Cup replay against Crystal Palace because he is playing in an international friendly for Brazil in Argentina.

Another foreign import, Manchester United's Eric Cantona, suffered a knock in training on Tuesday. However, he should be fit for Saturday's match at Arsenal.

John Deehan, dismissed last summer by Norwich City, returned to League management yesterday when he took charge at the Third Division club, Wigan Athletic. He replaces Graham Barrow, who was sacked last month. Deehan has spent the season so far playing for a Norfolk side, Wroxham, in the Jewson Eastern Counties League.

Paul McGrath is likely to break Pat Bonner's record of 78 caps for the Republic of Ireland when Jack Charlton's team travel to Portugal for their conclusive European Championship qualifier in Portugal on 15 November.

Republic of Ireland squad, Sporting Digest, page 31