Keane cleared for final

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The Independent Online
Roy Keane, the Manchester United midfield player, had the last obstacle blocking his FA Cup final appearance removed yesterday when the Football Association decided that he should answer his disrepute charge on 26 May.

The date means that the Irishman, who was sent off for stamping in the semi-final replay against Crystal Palace, would also be clear to play in a replay against Everton should one be necessary. He has also recovered from an ankle injury and could make his comeback in Sunday's final Premiership game at West Ham.

Keane's young team-mate, Gary Neville, appears at Lancaster Gate today after reaching 41 disciplinary points. At this late stage of the season he is likely to receive only a warning, which would also free him to play at Wembley.

Relegation-threatened Aston Villa stole a march on other British clubs interested in signing Paul Gascoigne when Doug Ellis, their 71-year-old chairman, arrived in Rome to discuss the England midfielder's possible transfer from Lazio for £5m.

Villa, who need a point at Norwich on Sunday to be sure of staying in the Premiership, are understood to have agreed to pay the Italians £500,000 more than Rangers. The Scottish champions had a £4.5m offer for Gascoigne provisionally accepted last week.

Although Gascoigne's wage demands are reputed to be around £20,000 a week, Villa are confident that his arrival would generate ample funds.