Little's double Derby deal

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Aston Villa's quest for greater striking power and pace reaped a double dividend last night when their manager, Brian Little, paid a combined fee of £2.9m to Derby County for Tommy Johnson and Gary Charles.

Little's counterpart at cash-strapped Derby, Roy McFarland, protested that the deal had been done over his head. "I'm not against the financial aspect, but I do question the timing," he said. "I was also not consulted." The Derby manager, at odds with his chairman, Lionel Pickering, takes his team to Everton in the FA Cup today.

Pickering had been asking a total of £3m for Johnson, 23, the former Notts County front-runner, and Charles, 24, a right-back who won two England caps while with Nottingham Forest. Little offered £2.7m, and the clubs agreed to split the difference.

Leeds United yesterday concluded protracted negotiations with Anthony Yeboah, Eintracht Frankfurt's 28-year-old Ghanaian international striker, but are still unclear as to whether the Bundesliga's leading scorer will be coming to Elland Road in a club-record £3.5m deal. Yeboah will make his decision on Sunday.

Crystal Palace, without a goal in nine Premiership games, yesterday completed the £400,000 signing of Southampton's Iain Dowie, the Northern Ireland striker. Southampton, meanwhile, finalised the £1.2m signing of the 20-year-old Chelsea striker, Neil Shipperley.

Alan Smith, the Palace manager, denied Dowie had been been bought to replace Chris Armstrong, for whom Newcastle United have reportedly made a £4m offer. Reiterating his intention to resist overtures for the Newcastle-born Armstrong, who has scored just two Premiership goals, Smith said: "I'm manager of a side who've scored only 15 goals all season, so it would be ridiculous to sell my best forward."

Mark McGhee, Little's successor as the Leicester City manager, made his first capture yesterday when he paid Doncaster £175,000 for Jamie Lawrence.

The former Sunderland winger joins the Premiership's bottom club 18 months after completing a prison sentence for robbery with violence.

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