Today's other stories in brief

O'Neill denies tabling bid for Upson

ASTON Villa have denied tabling a bid for West Ham and England defender Matthew Upson.

It had been suggested Villa had submitted a €12 million offer for the 29-year-old, who has forced himself back into contention for a place in the England side following an impressive run of form for the Hammers.

A statement on Villa's website, however, denied the club had been in touch with West Ham about signing the defender, who used to play for Villa's neighbours Birmingham.

Manager Martin O'Neill insisted there was "not an ounce of truth" in suggestions that Villa had attempted to buy Upson.

Windass surplus to requirements

HULL striker Dean Windass has conceded his days with the Premier League club are numbered after being told he can leave on loan.

The 39-year-old, who netted the winner in the Championship play-off final against Bristol City at Wembley last May, has started just one top-flight game this season and has made just six league and cup appearances.

Windass has been left out of the Hull squad for the last two games after being substituted at half-time during Hull's 5-1 thrashing at Manchester City on St Stephen's Day.

He had hoped to feature in last Saturday's FA Cup third-round clash against Newcastle. Manager Phil Brown made seven changes but Windass did not make the bench.

Windass wrote in his blog on "It's not true I've been released but assistant manager Brian Horton called me and told me the club were accepting offers to take me on loan. That tells you all you need to know about my future here."

Adriano back in Mourinho's plans

INTER Milan coach Jose Mourinho, who last month hinted Adriano could leave after questioning the Brazilian's commitment, says the troubled striker may remain with the Italian champions after all.

"I think he will stay with us," Mourinho told Sky television. "Like we've already said, it seems logical and right to finish the season with this group.

"Adriano is working well and if all goes to plan he will play in one of the next three games."

BOLTON are giving a trial to former Brazil and Real Betis midfielder Denilson. Manager Gary Megson is keen to have a look at the 31-year-old who is now a free agent after being released by Palmeiras.

MARSEILLE have ended their interest in veteran striker Henrik Larsson, the club confirmed yesterday.

Larsson, a free agent after his contract at Helsingborg officially came to an end on New Year's Eve, had been linked with a move to Marseille.

All parties were interested but club have now abandoned the idea with the former Sweden frontman hesitating on a final decision.

Downing not for sale 'no matter what's offered'

MIDDLESBROUGH are expecting yet another bid for Stewart Downing from Tottenham Hotspur but have resolved to reject it. Although Spurs are understood to be poised to offer an initial €13.3 million rising to €16 million for the England winger, Gareth Southgate said last night Downing would be staying put at the Riverside.

"Stewart won't be leaving, any bid will be turned down," said Boro's manager, who retains the full weight of his chairman's support on the matter. Indeed, Steve Gibson has demanded renewed loyalty and commitment from Middlesbrough's players - Downing included - as the club strives to avoid a relegation scrap.

"I believe Stewart Downing and all of our players should stay and fight to turn this club around," said Gibson.

"The players owe it to the club and to the fans and they owe it to the manager. There's enough talent here to lift the club back up the table and we want to give it every chance to shine through."

Lampard admits Chelsea slipped up

FRANK Lampard has admitted Chelsea have slipped up recently in their attempt to regain the Premier League title, a quest that could well hinge on Sunday's trip to Old Trafford.

"It's in our minds that we dropped some relatively easy points over the last few weeks, so we're in a position now where we really want to get a result. We go to win the game or not to get beaten - there is still a long way to go regardless, but it is a very important game." he said.

"The publicity around Chelsea now is that if you drop a few points people jump on it straight away, but Liverpool and United have dropped points, no one has pulled away from us, and Arsenal are behind us. It's the same for everyone, now we're starting all pretty much level."

Barcelona insist Eto'o is staying

BARCELONA insist Samuel Eto'o is staying at the Nou Camp despite reported interest from Manchester City and Inter.

Eto'o has been in scintillating form this season, scoring 18 goals in 20 games in all competitions and helping to fire Barca 11 points clear at the top of the Primera Division.

Reports in the Catalan press believe that City are ready to launch a bid in the region of €60 million during the transfer window.