Merry-go-round in full swing

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The Independent Online
The managerial vacancies at Leicester and Norwich City appeared no closer to being filled yesterday, while Luton Town's Terry Westley became the latest managerial casualty.

At Carrow Road there was official confirmation that O'Neill's assistant, Paul Franklin, will take charge of the Norwich side for tomorrow night's Coca-Cola Cup replay at Bolton.

But there was no comment from Filbert Street over reports that O'Neill could be about to move in. Mike Walker, the former Norwich and Everton manager, was interviewed by Leicester last week but he may now be approached by Luton.

O'Neill's resignation, following a dispute over lack of funds with the chairman, Robert Chase, brought an angry reaction from fans. Chase, for his part, reiterated that 43-year-old O'Neill's resignation had not been accepted, meaning that compensation will be due to the club if O'Neill, appointed in the summer, accepts another offer.

The Leicester chairman, Martin George, is away on business and a spokesman for the club said it was too soon to comment on speculation. But O'Neill has made no secret of the fact that he very nearly accepted the offer to join Leicester after Brian Little's departure last season and that the prospect of becoming manager at the club did appeal to him.

If O'Neill does end up at Filbert Street, Walker could be on his way to Kenilworth Road after Westley's troubled six-month tenure was officially ended by "mutual consent".

Westley, who succeeded David Pleat in July, has steered Luton to just four wins in 22 league games, with the Hatters plunging to the bottom of the First Division, and has run the gauntlet of angry fans.

After announcing that Westley - who has agreed a compensation package for the remaining seven months of his contract - had become the 15th managerial departure of the season, David Kohler, the Luton chairman, said: "I feel very sorry for Terry.

"I wanted him to do well but we've spent more than pounds 2m on players and are bottom of the First Division. Something clearly is wrong and something had to be done before it was too late."

Westley's assistant, the former Ipswich manager Mick McGiven, was also shown the door by Kohler, who revealed he was looking to appoint a new man before Saturday's game with Huddersfield. He refused to confirm or deny that 50-year-old Walker was in the frame but did say: "I want a man who has experience and can get us out of this difficult situation. We will certainly not be promoting from within.

"My phone has been ringing all the time with men wanting the job. Some of them are well known names. I shall be speaking to a couple of them today."

n Graham Kelly, chief executive of the Football Association, has launched an FA campaign to help English clubs in European competition. If the plan is approved, clubs will have four days clear of domestic fixtures before European matches and the option of a bye in the two-leg Coca-Cola Cup second round. The proposals, which will require FA Premier League and Football League approval, have been made in response to complaints from club managers about shortage of time available for preparations before European matches.

n Aston Villa's Dwight Yorke could be out until the middle of next month after having an operation on his broken nose.

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