Venables in demand

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Terry Venables could be back in football as early as the start of next season. It has emerged that the court cases which had been expected to occupy him all autumn will apparently require his presence for only four days.

Venables says he has had "quite a few" offers from abroad. "Since Glenn Hoddle was appointed I have had approaches and I have given messages that people will have to be patient because I have got only one thing on my mind and that's the European Championship," said the England coach, who steps down after Euro 96.

"I have got football-related things inside and outside football to consider. It could be that I am in work at the start of next season," he added. The court cases, involving libel actions against the Daily Mirror and Panorama and a wrongful dismissal claim against Alan Sugar at Tottenham, will take some eight weeks, he says, but he expects to have to attend for only four days.

"The people concerned are not worried about that or about me being in the papers for eight weeks," said Venables, who resigned from the job when concerns within the FA arose about adverse publicity from the court cases and his availability for the job. He confirmed, too, that he had been approached by the Premier League about a consultancy but had made no decision.

One position no longer open to Venables is at his former club Barcelona, where Bobby Robson is to replace Johan Cruyff as coach at a salary of almost pounds 1m a year. "It's a wonderful city and a great job. They deserve each other," said Venables, who was recommended for the position by Robson a decade ago and went on to win the Spanish title and cup for the club.

"I was a little surprised but when you look at it, it makes sense," Venables added. "Bobby has done exceptionally well since going abroad."

Will Robson have to win the title, which Barcelona have failed to do for the last two seasons? "Put it this way. He can't lose three on the trot," Venables said. It also showed that there was work for former England managers, it was pointed out. "Yes. It's heartening isn't it," Venables said.

The coach has also defended this week's trip to China and Hong Kong, denouncing criticism of the long haul as a "25 years ago" attitude. "It will be a really difficult game and when it comes to the tournament I don't think we will have anything more difficult than China," he said. After returning on 28 May, the players will have five days off before assembling for Euro 96.