Houllier purge


Gerard Houllier's purge of a Liverpool senior squad which he now concedes is lacking in both depth and quality will probably begin next month with the sale of the goalkeeper David James.

After informing the England international at the weekend that he had neither a short nor long-term future at Anfield, Houllier is seeking to replace him with the Dutchman Sander Westerveld for a sum believed to be about £3 million.

However, the player probably at the top of the Frenchman's wish list, the Czech international striker Vladimir Smicer, will not be Anfield-bound unless his valuation is swiftly revised. Smicer's club, Lens, insist he is worth at least £10 million, which is £7 million more than Liverpool have offered.

Houllier is believed to regard Smicer as the natural replacement for Steve McManaman who is to join Real Madrid on a Bosman-inspired free transfer at the end of June. Meanwhile Nottingham Forest yesterday confirmed that former Liverpool manager Roy Evans is being considered as a successor to Ron Atkinson. Evans, who left Anfield in December, first applied after Dave Bassett was sacked earlier in the season and he is still in the running, although Preston's David Moyes is also high on Forest's list.

Newcastle United and Middlesbrough have become embroiled in a five-furlong sprint to secure the signature of Oleg Luzhnyi. Full back Luzhnyi, 30, is captain of Dynamo Kiev, but is part of the breakup of the side who last Wednesday were knocked out of the Champions League by Bayern Munich. Holland plans to usher through legislation ahead of Euro 2000 allowing police to arrest suspected hooligans before they cause trouble.

The move follows the violence which marred Feyenoord's title celebrations on Sunday night when one person died. The violence bodes ill for the tournament, particularly as Rotterdam will host the final on July 2nd.

Today's Matches

International Friendly - Northern Ireland v Canada.

Under-21 Friendlies - Rep of Ireland v Sweden, Birr, 4.0; Germany v Scotland; Hungary v England.

FAI National League

Premier Division - - Bohemians v Derry City, Dalymount Park, 7.45; Finn Harps v Sligo Rovers, Finn Park, 7.30.

English League

Division One - Crewe v Bristol City; Port Vale v Watford. Division Two - Bristol Rovers v Millwall; Colchester v Bournemouth; Luton v Chesterfield; Macclesfield v Stoke. Notts County v Wycombe; Wigan v Lincoln City; York v Blackpool. Division Three - Darlington v Brentford; Hartlepool v Leyton Orient; Mansfield v Exeter; Rochdale v Cambridge Utd; Rotherham v Barnet; Halifax v Scunthorpe.

Scottish League Division One - Clydebank v Ayr.