United get extra time for FA reply

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The Independent Online


Manchester United, in potentially scalding water, have been granted additional time to prepare their answer to the Association concerning Eric Cantona's playing in a practice match last week.

The FA has demanded an explanation as to why the Frenchman appeared in United's 3-2 win over Rochdale at their training ground, despite his ban from football until 1 October. They have accepted, however, that no offical communication will be forthcoming until next Monday.

"We have had contact with Manchester United," an FA spokesman said, "and they have explained that Maurice Watkins, the club's solicitor, will not return from his holiday until Thursday and that the chairman and the team are in Malaysia on a pre-season tour. As a result, they have been allowed until next Monday to make their reply."

In Malaysia, Steve Bruce scored twice as United beat Selangor State Selections 4-1 at the Shah Alam Stadium near Kuala Lumpur. Nicky Butt and Lee Sharpe also scored.

United have agreed to release their reserve goalkeeper, Gary Walsh, but Reading show no sign of wishing to let Shaka Hislop go. The First Division club denied claims that the goalkeeper was to join Newcastle United, saying they had heard nothing from Tyneside since they rejected an offer several weeks ago.

Opposition politicians may have found an unlikely figure in John Salako to support claims that the National Health Service is underfunded. The Crystal Palace winger was hoping to join Coventry, but the pounds 1.5m move was subject to a scan on his back. Unfortunately, the queue for the scanner at the local hospital was too long and the transfer is expected to be completed today.

One move that did go ahead yesterday was that of the Dutchman Robin van der Laan, who was purchased by Derby from Port Vale in a deal that saw striker Lee Mills and pounds 475,000 go in the opposite direction.

Jim Jefferies announced yesterday that he will take up the position of manager at Hearts, two days after saying he was staying with Falkirk on a new seven-year contract. George Fulston, the Falkirk chairman, said: "I will take action on this. Hearts had better know they are dealing with a man experienced in football."