Newslines: Ferguson wants Irwin


Alex Ferguson is determined to reward Denis Irwin (35) and Teddy Sheringham (34) with new contracts. Their current deals finish in the summer. But Ferguson is so pleased with their form and fitness he wants them to remain at Old Trafford.

He said: "I'd like them to stay on. Fitness-wise they are both looking in good condition and their performance levels are good. I want them to stay for the experience they give us. They've both got that in abundance and both of them have kept themselves in great physical shape.

"We all know about their ability but the other things allow them to stay on longer than other players in football. Time does catch up on footballers but they are both doing terrifically. I just wish they were 29."

Meanwhile, Roma's out-of-favour Japanese star Hidetoshi Nakata will not be joining Manchester United according to the player's management company.

Nakata (23), who cost Roma £14 million, was reported to be on the verge of quitting the Italian club, complaining of "suffocation" and lack of a private life and he expressed an interest in joining United. But a spokesman for Nakata said last night: "Nakata is happy at Rome and with the results of the team."

Ronaldo tested positive in a drink driving test in Spain at the weekend, Marca sports newspaper reported yesterday.

Brazil's 1996 and 1997 FIFA world player of the year left Capbreton in south western France on Saturday where he was being treated for a long-standing knee injury.

He joined friends at a restaurant in the Basque town St Sebastian before finishing off his night out at a disco in the town centre.

He then left for France in a four-wheel drive vehicle but was stopped by police while still in Spain and failed a random drink driving test.

He immediately paid an 18,000-peseta fine and one of his friends drove the car back to Capbreton.

Liverpool will face one of Barcelona, Roma, Porto or Celta Vigo in the fourth round of the UEFA Cup after being unseeded along with Nantes, AEK Athens and VfB Stuttgart. The draw will be made today.

In the other pot, seeded clubs Inter Milan, Parma, Bordeaux and Slavia Prague will be drawn against PSV Eindhoven, Kaiserslautern, Alaves and Rayo Vallecano.

Liverpool's French defender Djimi Traore (20) has signed a new four-year contract. Traore has made 11 first-team appearances after joining them from his hometown club Laval for £500,000 22 months ago.

Leicester look set to snatch Leeds midfielder Matthew Jones from Blackburn's grasp after moving in with a £3.25 million bid for the Wales international.

Jones was poised to join Graeme Souness's side after Rovers agreed a fee of £2.75 million with Leeds earlier yesterday.

Leicester manager Peter Taylor has been given cash to spend after recently selling Neil Lennon to Celtic for £5.75 million, and had been linked with Chelsea's Jody Morris.

Rangers have confirmed midfielder Giovanni van Bronckhorst is to have an operation on his injured groin. And yesterday the Dutch FA made it clear they had no intention of picking up the tab for his absence. Van Bronckhorst picked up the injury while training with the Netherlands in early October as they prepared for the World Cup qualifier with Cyprus.