Wilkins in right place for vacant Hibernian job

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Ray Wilkins could find himself again elevated from the ranks to officer class after Alex Miller's 10-year term in command at Hibernian came to a close yesterday.

The 40-year-old Wilkins, who was signed by Miller on a short-term contract after the midfielder's services as Queen's Park Rangers player-manager were no longer required, may well be Hibs' choice as they seek to stem a run of disappointing results, not least Saturday's embarrassing 3-1 home derby defeat by Heart of Midlothian.

In the meantime, the assistant manager, Jocky Scott, will assume control, with Wilkins joined on the list of candidates by Murdo MacLeod, Steve Archibald, Alex McLeish, Gordon Strachan, Willie Miller, Terry Christie and Alex Smith.

Miller's resignation came after a lengthy conflict with a section of the Hibs' supporters. "These things happen in football and I thought this was for the best for both parties," he said. "I think the fans were beginning to try to get to me through the players." The 47-year-old Miller, who became the 19th British managerial casualty this season, will continue as part-time assistant to the Scotland manager, Craig Brown.

Spectators also made their influence felt at Wycombe Wanderers, where the manager, Alan Smith, and his assistant, David Kemp, were dismissed with the team bottom of the Second Division without a win in nine League games. The youth team coach, Neil Smillie, has been appointed caretaker- manager.

Fans have been calling for the return of Martin O'Neill, who led the club out of the Vauxhall Conference before taking over at Leicester City. Supporters also called for the resignation of Smith, who spent just 15 months in charge at Adams Park following two years at Crystal Palace, at the end of last season.

"Alan has never really been accepted by the fans and that has made life extremely difficult," Kemp said.

Ian Wright has apologised to David Pleat for the "pervert" comments he made about the Sheffield Wednesday manager. "It was said in a jovial manner at the end of a long day. People were firing all sorts of questions and I didn't think it would be published. It was just a joke," the Arsenal striker said.

"It was not meant to offend anyone and I can't apologise enough. I have spoken to David Pleat and I'm very pleased that he accepted my apology."

Manchester City's difficulties concerning their vacant manager's job continue with Willie Donachie, the former Maine Road defender, joining the list of those who have refused the position. He is staying as first- team coach at Everton. City are also rumoured to have had an approach by a London consortium willing to put pounds 15m into the club in return for seats on the board and Chris Waddle in charge of the team.

Paul McGrath's falling out with Aston Villa deepened yesterday with his chairman, Doug Ellis, insisting that the long-serving defender will not be allowed to leave for less than pounds 200,000.

The 36-year-old McGrath was sent packing from the Villa squad who were preparing for last night's game at Newcastle after branding the decision to demand a fee when Coventry recently showed an interest as "nothing short of a disgrace".

McGrath, four times Villa's player of the year since joining for Manchester United in 1989, has put his request for a transfer in writing. Ellis, however, said: "All we are asking for is the signing-on fee of pounds 100,000 and the money we have paid Paul since he signed a new contract. It comes to pounds 200,000 in total. I think the world of Paul McGrath and don't want him to leave."

Southampton have signed the Norwegian striker, Egil Ostenstadt, from Viking Stavanger for pounds 900,000. The 24-year-old Ostenstadt has scored four goals in four internationals as well as 23 goals in 24 matches for Stavanger.

Graham Kavanagh, the Middlesbrough midfielder, is to join Stoke City for pounds 250,000, with the sum doubling if he plays 50 games for the First Division club. Wolves have confirmed their interest in an other Middlesbrough midfield player, Craig Hignett, who is on the transfer list at pounds 750,000.