Shearer's strain 'not a problem'

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The Independent Online
Football

Reports that their prolific centre-forward, Alan Shearer, will miss the rest of the season have been dismissed as alarmist nonsense by Blackburn Rovers.

It has been rumoured that the England striker has a hernia condition - but the Ewood Park club insist that Shearer may be available for Saturday's FA Carling Premiership home game against Everton. He was ruled out of last night's international friendly against Bulgaria with a groin strain.

Tony Parkes, Rovers' assistant manager, said: "The fact is that Alan has got a bit of a groin strain, which he has had for a week or two and he has felt a little sore after games. We certainly don't see it as a long-term problem and at this moment he is very much in the picture for Saturday."

Predictably, Blackburn were among the clubs doing business yesterday before this afternoon's transfer deadline. Rovers have set up a pounds 1.3m move for Grimsby's 22-year-old defender Gary Croft, who can play in central defence or at left-back. The Blackburn manager, Ray Harford, has been trailing the player since last summer, when he was in charge of the England Under-21 side at the Toulon tournament, where Croft was a member of his squad.

One of the few deals that was completed yesterday saw Charlton Athletic sign Queen's Park Rangers' former England Under-21 international striker, Bradley Allen, for pounds 400,000.

"I have had seven good years at QPR, but things have petered out just recently," Allen, now 24, said. "I feel I can do the business and I am looking forward to helping the club bid for the Premiership." The Loftus Road outfit have also completed the sale of the Australian international defender, Ned Zelic, to Eintracht Frankfurt for pounds 750,000.

Bolton Wanderers have signed the Millwall striker, Scott Taylor. The Premiership strugglers have agreed an initial fee of pounds 150,000 for the 19-year-old, who cost the Lions pounds 15,000 from Staines Town a year ago. The Burnden Park club are also set to complete the pounds 400,000 transfer of Bradford City's goalkeeper, Gavin Ward.

Everton are ready to raise their bid for Celtic's Scottish international midfielder John Collins to over pounds 2m, while Paul Peschisolido may be on his way back to Birmingham from Stoke for a fee of pounds 750,000 plus the left-back, John Frain.

The former Manchester City striker Carl Griffiths is expected to join Peterborough from Portsmouth for pounds 200,000, while the Luton right-back, Des Linton, is also on his way to Peterborough for pounds 150,000. Having turned down Portsmouth, the veteran Middlesbrough striker Paul Wilkinson is joining Luton on loan. Preston have paid a club record pounds 200,000 for Tranmere's 32-year-old former Wrexham striker, Gary Bennett.

The temperamental Newcastle United striker, Faustino Asprilla, has been disciplined by Colombia after reporting late to the team's headquarters for tonight's international with Bolivia. Asprilla claimed personal problems had delayed his arrival in Medellin, but the team coach, Ivan Dario Gomez, was not in a forgiving mood.

Asprilla arrived nine hours later than expected, after a Colombian television station alleged that he had been seen drinking with a group of friends in the small town of Manizales. A furious Gomez said: "Asprilla's attitude is very bad and shows a lack of discipline. I cannot allow him to behave like this. He cannot play tricks with us. We are the national team."

Asprilla, who was initially dropped from the team but then reinstated, replied: "I am very upset. I had some problems with the family to sort out." Newcastle are not in action until next Wednesday, when they play at Liverpool.

Manchester United have lost their appeal to the Association over an illegal approach to the former Oldham Athletic schoolboy, David Brown. Yesterday's decision by an FA commission means the pounds 20,000 fine imposed at the original hearing in January stands, with the club facing costs from both that case and the appeal. United have been given 14 days to pay both the fine and costs.

Brown has been allowed to remain at United, who next week will learn from a League appeals committee the amount of compensation they must pay to Oldham. The 17-year-old Bolton-born player is the leading scorer in United's B team with 13 goals, as they pursue the Lancashire League Second Division title.

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