Newcastle on the verge of signing Batty

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David Batty was withdrawn from a Blackburn Rovers reserve-team match last night to clear the way for a transfer to Newcastle United.

The midfielder was due to appear for Rovers' second team against Leeds United at near-deserted Halifax Town, but was pulled out just before the kick-off. Kevin Keegan, the Newcastle manager, had been in contact with Blackburn during the day, attempting to gain an answer to his final pounds 3.75m offer, and the drawn-out deal should go through next week.

Neil Lennon has put his freetransfer days behind him by completing a pounds 750,000 move from Crewe to Leicester City. The 24-year-old midfielder, who shunned the Premiership bright lights at Coventry in favour of the First Division club, is a former Manchester City trainee. He made one senior appearance before joining Crewe on a free transfer in the 1990 close-season.

An outstanding talent may also have slipped though the fingers of City's neighbours, with United having seen the South African centre-half, Mark Fish, cut short his trial at Old Trafford to test the water at Lazio. There was talk of the 21-year-old Fish making a pounds 1m move to United from Orlando Pirates, but the Italian club's personal terms may prove decisive.

n Everton have agreed a four-year shirt deal with Umbro worth pounds 20m.

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