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Little moves in for pounds 4m Curcic

Brian Little signalled his intention to make Aston Villa serious challengers for the Premiership this season when he broke the club's transfer record and agreed yesterday to pay pounds 4m for Bolton's Yugoslavian international midfielder Sasa Curcic.

However, Little revealed Curcic was unlikely to play for the club for at least a couple of weeks while they obtained a work permit. The 24-year- old's arrival will top the pounds 3.5m Villa paid Partizan Belgrade a year ago for Curcic's former team-mate and close friend, Savo Milosevic.

"I thought perhaps I would be waiting several months for this particular player and yet it has happened very quickly," Little said.

The Bolton manager, Colin Todd, said: "I'm convinced that all this has had something to do with the fact that the Yugoslav international manager made it clear to Sasa that he would not be considered for World Cup duty if he were playing for a team outside the Premiership."

Another player who is poised to make a quick return to the Premiership is Niall Quinn, who is joining Sunderland from Manchester City for an undisclosed fee. Leicester will today complete the signing of the Millwall goalkeeper Kasey Keller for pounds 1m.

Queen's Park Rangers, however, are in no mood to sell and are threatening to report Leeds to the Football Association over their attempts to sign the forward Trevor Sinclair. QPR are angry with the club for talking to the media about the player when they have been told he is not available.

Patrik Berger is set to make his Premiership debut for Liverpool at Middlesbrough on Saturday after the Department of Education and Employment cut through red tape to allow him to register as a player at Anfield.

Doubt has been cast on Robbie Elliott's move to Blackburn Rovers because the Newcastle left-back had a cruciate ligament operation as a teenager. Rovers' owner, Jack Walker, has strict rules on checking players with past problems.

The governing body of European football, Uefa, yesterday told Rangers that they must play next week's European Cup tie in Vladikavkaz despite the nearby conflict in Chechnya. Meanwhile, Rangers' Glasgow rivals Celtic announced their turnover had risen by 54 per cent, to pounds 16m, in the 1995- 96 season.