Leeds fight Australia over Viduka leg injury

Ian Parkes
Tuesday 17 February 2004 01:00

Leeds United are locked in talks with the Australian Soccer Association in the hope that the striker Mark Viduka will not be banned from Saturday's Premier League match at Manchester United.

It is understood Viduka did not meet up with the rest of the Australian squad in Caracas yesterday for Wednesday's friendly against Venezuela because he is suffering from a hamstring strain.

However, a row has developed with the ASA declining a written request from Leeds that Viduka be withdrawn from the squad, and the ASA contacted Fifa regarding Viduka's release. The world game's governing body could take a range of actions if they felt the player did not have a legitimate reason to miss the game.

Fifa regulations stipulate that a player who does not comply with a call-up request will be suspended from playing for his club for a period of five days after the date of the game for which he had been selected. This would rule Viduka out of the trip to Old Trafford.

The Southampton chairman, Rupert Lowe, will interview six candidates, three domestic and three foreign, for his managerial vacancy this week as he looks at the alternatives to Glenn Hoddle.

While obviously wanting to be sure he chooses the right man, Lowe is eager to fill the vacancy as soon as possible. The process of finding a suitable successor for Gordon Strachan, other than the unpopular former Saints manager Hoddle, began with Lowe speaking to some of the candidates yesterday.

The shortlist is being kept secret, but it is believed to include the French managers Alain Perrin and Philippe Troussier, who are both available after spells with Marseilles and the Japanese national side respectively.

Plymouth Argyle's highly rated Paul Sturrock is also in the running despite signing a new contract with the Second Division leaders. He could be tempted by the chance of moving to the Premiership. Iain Dowie is a fascinating option after a brilliant start to his spell with Crystal Palace, and is yet to sign a contract at Selhurst Park.

Wigan's Paul Jewell is also admired by Lowe but is in the race for promotion and would not be allowed to leave until the end of the season.

The Scottish managers Alex McLeish, at Rangers, and Craig Levein, at Hearts, have also been considered, although there would be compensation to pay.

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