Wednesday set to give Pleat fresh challenge

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The Independent Online
Football

BY PHIL SHAW

The mercurial career of David Pleat, the only man to have managed both Tottenham Hotspur and Nuneaton Boro-ugh, looks set for a fresh twist next week when Sheffield Wednesday hope to confirm the Luton Town manager as successor to Trevor Francis.

Wednesday have been given permission to talk to the 50-year-old Pleat and, provided the discussions go well, the Hillsborough board will meet on Monday to approve Luton's demand for compensation for the final year of his contract.

Intimating his desire to work at Premiership level again, Pleat said: "I think I could have a very enjoyable and successful partnership if it all goes through." Wednesday are understood to favour an enhan-ced role for Chris Waddle, possibly as player-coach.

Pleat's sojourn at White Hart Lane, which included an FA Cup final defeat in 1987, ended after 18 months following disclosures about his private life. He also had an unhappy three-year stint with Leicester, but has had two spells, spanning a total of 12 years, in charge of Luton. He rejected a return to Spurs as general manager last autumn because he wanted to continue coaching, and was refused permission to discuss Aston Villa's vacancy.

Bobby Robson, who decided to honour his contract with Porto rather than join Arsenal, has suggested that this may be his last job. The former England manager, 62, said: "I had an excellent opportunity to return, but perhaps now my career will finish here. It's a magnificent club and we've got a good team."

Birmingham have lodged a complaint with the League over an alleged illegal approach by Derby for Barry Fry, their manager. Fry, meanwhile, has confirmed his interest in Martyn O'Connor, the Walsall midfielder for whom Derby had a pounds 450,000 offer rejected in April, as well as in two strikers, Marcus Stewart of Bristol Rovers and Wimbledon's Andy Clarke.

Port Vale are vying with Grasshoppers Zurich for Jeffrey Tallon, a pounds 250,000-rated striker with the Dutch club, Den Haag. Matt Jackson, an FA Cup winner with Everton last month, has declined to sign a new contract until he receives assurances about his long-term future at Goodison Park.

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