West Ham favourites for signature of Lomas

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Manchester City's Steve Lomas looks set to sign for West Ham in a surprise pounds 2.5m transfer deadline deal. Harry Redknapp, the West Ham manager, agreed a price for the Northern Ireland midfielder with his City counterpart, Frank Clark, yesterday.

Redknapp wants to strengthen his team despite the Hammers' recent upturn in results and has money to invest on the hard-working Lomas.

Coventry's manager, Gordon Strachan, still hopes to persuade Lomas to join his struggling side but West Ham are the firm favourites to sign Lomas, who was not offered a new contract at City.

Tony Parkes, Blackburn's caretaker manager, has been assured that his future at Ewood Park is safe. Roy Hodgson, who is due to take over at Blackburn in the summer, has dismissed reports that he intends to bring in his own back-room staff.

Parkes, who has presided over a revival in Rovers' fortunes, said: "Roy was very concerned by the stories and called me. He has made his feelings clear and there's no problem as far as I am concerned."

There had been reports that Bob Houghton, a colleague of Hodgson's in his days at Bristol City and Malmo, and Mike Kelly, a former England goalkeeping coach, were being lined up for jobs at Ewood Park.

Bristol City's chairman, Scott Davidson, wants to waste no time in appointing a replacement for Joe Jordan, who left the 10th-placed Second Division club by mutual consent on Monday. Davidson said he had received a number of applications. John Ward, the former Bristol Rovers manager, and Bournemouth's manager, Mel Machin, have been linked with the vacancy.

Alex Ferguson has dismissed reports in foreign newspapers that he is interested in signing either Barcelona's Brazilian striker Ronaldo, or Sean Dundee, the Karlsruhe striker.

The Luton defender Darren Patterson and Manchester City's midfielder Jeff Whitley have been called into Northern Ireland's World Cup squad for the qualifier against Portugal in Belfast on Saturday following the withdrawals of the St Johnstone pair Danny Griffin and George O'Boyle through injury.

Scotland have avoided a club versus country row by allowing Paul Lambert to play for Borussia Dortmund tomorrow before he reports for international duty, although the Scotland manager, Craig Brown, said Lambert would not be in his starting line-up for the World Cup qualifier against Estonia at Kilmarnock on Saturday.

Arsenal's Patrick Vieira and Franck Leboeuf of Chelsea were named in France's provisional squad of 37 for next year's World Cup, but there was no place for Eric Cantona or David Ginola. From the list, Aime Jacquet will pick a reduced squad of 18 for the friendly match against Sweden at Parc des Princes next Wednesday.

The Football Association has turned down Wolves' appeal to have a red card for striker Steve Bull at Oldham earlier this month wiped off, so he will be suspended for the games against Queen's Park Rangers, Norwich and Reading.

Willie Carson, who recently hung up his crop, has joined Swindon as an associate director. An ardent football fan, Carson lives in nearby Cirencester and has agreed to become involved in the club.

Swindon could re-sign their former defender Phil King from Aston Villa on a free transfer before tomorrow's deadline. King, who has suffered a number of injuries, has been on trial with the First Division side.

Gillingham are keen to sign the third-choice Newcastle goalkeeper, Steve Harper, before the transfer deadline so he can help the club to preserve its Second Division status.