Burley to make quick return

George Burley has emerged as favourite to take over as manager of Millwall following his resignation from Derby County.The former Ipswich Town boss quit Pride Park on Tuesday and is now in line to make an immediate return to football - and talks with Millwall chairman Jeff Burnige are imminent.

By Dave Vincent

George Burley has emerged as favourite to take over as manager of Millwall following his resignation from Derby County.

The former Ipswich Town boss quit Pride Park on Tuesday and is now in line to make an immediate return to football - and talks with Millwall chairman Jeff Burnige are imminent.

Burnige said: “I came close to making an appointment recently, but now a new candidate - George Burley - has emerged.


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“Given what he has achieved, I'm bound to be interested in someone of his quality and I will be taking the interest further. I anticipate making a further announcement next Tuesday.”

In Scotland, Hearts, having been missed out on Sir Bobby Robson and Billy Davies of Preston, are also said to be interested in bringing in a manager who has built successful sides on a shoestring.

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Meanwhile, Sunderland chairman Bob Murray's insistence they will not be held to ransom by players wanting to join them could scupper the deal for Ipswich keeper Kelvin Davis.

Despite going up as champions, there is no bottomless pot of money available at the Stadium of Light and the chairman has imposed strict spending limits.

Sunderland remain £36million in debt from their last visit to the top flight followed by relegation, when they were caught out by having high earners on long contracts.

Murray says it won't happen again. New contracts are said to be more performance-related than in the past, with players to receive less pay if the team is relegated.

Significantly, manager Mick McCarthy's only new recruit so far is striker Daryl Murphy from Irish football.

McCarthy released four first teamers, including strikers Marcus Stewart and Brian Deane, rather than offer them new contracts in the Premiership. And several more players have been made available for transfer.

Sunderland have failed, so far, to land striker Jon Stead from Blackburn Rovers and Scotland striker Kenny Miller from Wolves but are still in for Ipswich duo Tommy Miller and Davis, who believes his £1million move is still on.

The 28-year-old met McCarthy to discuss a deal a week ago. Davis said: “I have left things with my agent and if it takes two hours or two weeks to resolve, I don't mind.

“When I spoke to Mick we sorted everything out football-wise, but negotiations can take time. We are sorting out the terms. That way, Ipswich will get the money they want. But we'll just have to wait and see what happens - it is all down to the terms.”

Sunderland have also talked to another goalkeeping target, Roy Carroll, who is leaving Manchester United.

London sources claim that Davis is also a target for West Ham, who will be deprived of the services of James Walker for virtually all the 2005-2006 campaign after he suffered a serious knee injury in the play-off final win over Preston.

With two of Town's four strikers already gone from last season, Darren Bent and Pablo Counago, and Shefki Kuqi's future in doubt, manager Joe Royle needs to bring in at least one striker.

Former Chelsea, Rangers and Sunderland star Tore-Andre Flo, now 31, is looking for a return to this country from Sienna in Italy and, though he would prefer a return to the Premiership, Ipswich are one of the clubs being linked with him.

Royle tried to sign the Norwegian international from Brann in 1997, while manager at Everton. Flo instead went to Chelsea and then on to Rangers, where he was a prolific scorer. But a £6.75 million move to Sunderland proved a disaster. He only scored four times in their relegation season. However, his wage demands are likely to be too high for Town.

Meanwhile, Charlton are being linked with a move for Newcastle United midfielder Darren Ambrose in order to team him up again with former Ipswich colleague Bent.

Town striker Dean Bowditch has been called up by England for the UEFA U19 champions in Northern Ireland next month, where England will face France, Norway and Armenia in the group stages.

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