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Hull City 0 Bristol City 0: Nervy Tigers must wait for the big time after stalemate

Hull City 0 Bristol City 0: Nervy Tigers must wait for the big time

By
Colin Young

PUBLISHED:

20:37 GMT, 19 April 2013

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UPDATED:

20:57 GMT, 19 April 2013

If Hull City are going to go back to the Barclays Premier League, they are determined to do it the hard way.

Just three days after losing at Wolves, Steve Bruce's side, who remain
second behind promoted Cardiff City, blew their chance to virtually
guarantee their return to the top flight with a victory over
bottom-placed Bristol City, who were relegated earlier in the week.

Hull's Matt Fryatt tussles with Liam Kelly of Bristol City

Running man: Hull's Matt Fryatt tussles with Liam Kelly of Bristol City

Match facts

Hull: Stockdale, Chester (Rosenior 86), Faye, Hobbs, Elmohamady, Boyd, Meyler, Quinn, Brady, Gedo (Simpson 67), Fryatt (Proschwitz 67). Subs Not Used: Jakupovic, Cairney, McShane, Fathi.

Bristol City: Heaton, Foster, Nyatanga, Moloney, Cunningham, Adomah (Anderson 86), Kilkenny, Kelly, Bates,Baldock (Howard 90), Davies (Burns 90). Subs Not Used: Gerken, Mark Wilson, Louis Carey, Ajala.

Att: 18,595

Ref: Michael Oliver (Northumberland).

Latest Championship table and results

The drab goalless draw at the KC Stadium has offered a lifeline to closest rivals Watford, who face Blackburn Rovers at Vicarage Road on Saturday and can now overtake Hull with three wins out of three. Bizarrely however, if Gianfranco Zola's side lose, Hull will be promoted.

That, of course, is the Championship but Hull never really looked like a team on the verge of leaving the division in the right direction in front of their anxious and frustrated supporters. Bristol City certainly looked like a team who are relegated.

They were the opponents five years ago when Dean Windass's dramatic late goal sealed Hull's promotion to the big time for the first time. There was no local hero to break the deadlock last night, or offer evidence that Hull will be able to avoid a return visit to Wembley to clinch promotion next month.

Hold up: Fryatt is blocked off by with Brendan Moloney

Hold up: Fryatt is blocked off by with Brendan Moloney

Pressure point: Hull boss Steve Bruce

Pressure point: Hull boss Steve Bruce

For all that their three-man defence had little to do, the home side
rarely troubled visiting keeper Tom Heaton. He didn't have a save to
make in the first half, which was down to the Tigers' nervy and
unconvincing approach play.

championship

And when rare chances did fall their way in the penalty area, they were
wasted. Irish pair Robbie Brady and Stephen Quinn both benefitted from
the tireless endeavours of their fellow countryman David Meyler but
Brady found the sidenetting and Quinn could only reach the 98 travelling
supporters who made the long journey north.

Hull, who travel to Barnsley next week, fared little better after the
break as Bruce tried to calm nerves among his players and the home
crowd. Even strong penalty appeals for a foul on Quinn 10 minutes from
time failed to convince referee Michael Oliver.

In fact, apart from a weak Brady free-kick, the only shot on target came
from Bristol's Sam Baldock who barely warmed David Stockdale's hands
with his drive.

Heaton did not have a meaningful save to make until the first minute
of added time when he denied Meyler with a superb two-handed stop from
12 yards after the home side finally penetrated the Bristol back line.

Liverpool having better season than last year – Glen Johnson

No trophies and seventh in the league… but Johnson insists Liverpool have improved

By
Dominic King

PUBLISHED:

06:15 GMT, 9 April 2013

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UPDATED:

06:15 GMT, 9 April 2013

Glen Johnson insists Liverpool's season has been 'clearly better' than the last campaign which ended with them winning a trophy and qualifying for Europe.

Liverpool, whose hopes of top six finish were dented by a 0-0 draw with West Ham, never threatened to repeat their exploits of last year in knockout football when they reached both domestic cup finals, winning the League Cup against Cardiff.

Bar a huge turn of events, it is almost certain they will miss out on a place in the Europa League next year, too, as they are running out of games to overhaul Arsenal, Tottenham and Everton.

Luis Suarez

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard

Woe: Liverpool failed to break down a dogged West Ham defence at Anfield last weekend

Johnson, though, is adamant that Liverpool – who are set to surpass the points tally of 52 they accrued 12 months ago – have made far greater progress under Brendan Rodgers than the Barclays Premier League table would suggest.

'I wouldn't say it (has been) so close but so far,' said the England right-back. 'It is clearly a better season than last season. Brendan is looking to improve the squad and we have got a better squad than we did have. He will look to improve again in the summer.

'If we can nick the goals we need from games (like against West Ham), we will be right in amongst it (next season).'

When asked why he felt it was a 'clearly better season', Johnson replied: 'It's a few things. You look at the squad, the feeling that there is around the place, the football that we are playing – 8 times out of 10, we have been battering teams.

Past glories: Liverpool won the Carling Cup last season but will finish this campaign without a trophy

Past glories: Liverpool won the Carling Cup last season but will finish this campaign without a trophy

'That wasn't the case last season. We won a trophy last season and, of course, that was fantastic. Everyone wants to win. That's what we are in the game for. But in terms of getting Liverpool back where they belong, we want to be back in the top four.'

Johnson, who has been one of Liverpool's most consistent performers under Rodgers, believes it is vital for the club's critics to look at this season in isolation, as he is adamant there will be significant improvement when things are fully settled.

'Brendan was brought in to rebuild the squad and put Liverpool back into the places that it should be (as a club),' said Johnson. 'He wants to put us back in the top four but he wasn't asked to do that in his first season. This season has been a step closer to that.

Main man: Glen Johnson (centre) praised manager Brendan Rodgers for his impact at the club

Main man: Glen Johnson (centre) praised manager Brendan Rodgers for his impact at the club

'Everyone – players, staff, fans – would love us to be back in the top four but if we improve on last season then it is a step in the right direction. We are still pretty close to the top four. If we can start nicking games like West Ham, we are going to be right in amongst it.'

Meanwhile, Liverpool target Toby Alderweirled has stated that he would prefer a move to Anfield this summer. The Belgian defender is expected to leave Ajax and has been courted by a number of English clubs, including Newcastle and Everton.

'I do not want to play for an English club in mid-table,' said Alderweirled. 'Unlike Newcastle, Liverpool meets my criteria.'

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Wasps 24 Northampton 26: Christian Day scores late winner

Wasps 24 Northampton 26: Day breaks hosts' hearts with last-gasp winner

By
Ian Stafford

PUBLISHED:

17:54 GMT, 23 March 2013

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UPDATED:

20:11 GMT, 23 March 2013

Northampton 's pack dominated their Wasps counterparts to such an extent in this battle for the play-offs that three Wasps forwards were sent to the sin bin.

But it took Christian Day's finalplay try to steal victory. Stephen Myler still needed to land the simple conversion to confirm the win but Day's score – assisted by returning England star Dylan Hartley, who shoved his team-mate over the line – also earned a bonus point that could prove crucial.

Wasps, seconds away from a remarkable win considering they played with one man down for nearly half an hour and were crushed up front, now find themselves seven points adrift of fourth-placed Northampton.

Lee 'n' easy: Lee Dickinson scores the Saints' second try

Lee 'n' easy: Lee Dickinson scores the Saints' second try

Day's final score summed up a
physical clash between two teams featuring a host of players who either
lost for England last week in Cardiff or who are pushing hard for a
place in the June tour to Argentina.

Day's try resulted from a driving maul as the Wasps forwards spent much of the game going backwards and conceding penalties.

Saints would have been kicking themselves if they had lost, which they nearly did thanks to a second-half comeback from Wasps.

Losing director of rugby Dai Young
said: 'Fair play to Northampton, they had a real weapon in their maul
and they used it. It's hard to play against them with 15 men and even
harder with 14 for much of the game, especially when you don't get the
field position or the ball.

Heading for glory: Elliot Daly (right) of London Wasps scores his team's second try

Heading for glory: Elliot Daly (right) of London Wasps scores his team's second try

'That said, having got our noses in
front, I take issue with the last three penalties awarded to them,
although I'm not saying Saints didn't deserve to win. The bottom line is
that if you can't stop a driving line out you'll struggle.'

Northampton director of rugby Jim
Mallinder was more relieved than happy, saying: 'If you have a weapon
like that, then you use it. We controlled the game but Wasps can score
points quickly.

'We gave away some penalties and almost threw it away. But we got a bonus point win and are now in a good position.'

Snow stopping me: George Pisi evades Daly's tackle

Snow stopping me: George Pisi evades Daly's tackle

The portents were clear from as early
as the eighth minute, when referee David Rose awarded Saints a penalty
try and sent Thomas Rhys Thomas to the bin.

Eight minutes later, Lee Dickson
flopped over after another powerful maul. Wasps hit back through a
long-range Elliott Daly penalty and then a classic Tom Varndell try,
sprinting in from 50 yards to score his 12th of the season and his 72nd
Premiership try in total. Varndell is now only four behind record scorer
Mark Cueto.

Snow joke: Daly lefty dejected after Saints stole the win at the death

Snow joke: Daly lefty dejected after Saints stole the win at the death

A conversion and two penalties from
Stephen Jones meant the home side were only three points down at the
break, despite a Hartley try from yet another destructive maul.

This built into a five-point
advantage after another Jones penalty and a stunning finish from Daly in
the corner which will surely not go unnoticed by the England selectors.

But after Ashley Johnson received his
team's third yellow card, Day ended a period of sustained Northampton
pressure by snatching the game at the death.

Alex Cuthbert of Wales is out for six weeks after tearing hamstring against England

Wales winger Cuthbert out for six weeks after tearing hamstring against England

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

18:24 GMT, 20 March 2013

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UPDATED:

19:25 GMT, 20 March 2013

Wales winger Alex Cuthbert has been ruled out for up to six weeks with a hamstring tear sustained in Saturday's RBS 6 Nations title-clinching victory over England.

Cuthbert, who scored two tries in the 30-3 rout at the Millennium Stadium, will miss at least four of the Cardiff Blues' remaining five RaboDirect PRO 12 matches.

If the injury takes six weeks to heal, he will also be sidelined for their final game against Ulster on
May 3.

Sidelined: Wales' Alex Cuthbert is to be out for six weeks

Sidelined: Wales' Alex Cuthbert is to be out for six weeks

'Alex suffered a grade two hamstring strain in the first 30 minutes of the match against England. He is expected to be out for between four to six weeks,' read a statement released by the Blues.

Cuthbert is expected to tour with the British & Irish Lions this summer and while the injury will not affect his chances of travelling to Australia, it will leave him short of match fitness ahead of the first game against the Barbarians in Hong Kong on June 1.

'Grade two strain': It is Cuthbert's hamstring that is proving the problem

'Grade two strain': It is Cuthbert's hamstring that is proving the problem

Welsh fly-half Ceri Sweeney will join Exeter at the end of the season

Sweeney to swap Cardiff for Exeter in bid to make his mark on Premiership

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

10:36 GMT, 10 March 2013

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UPDATED:

10:36 GMT, 10 March 2013

Former Wales fly-half Ceri Sweeney will join Exeter at the end of the season, his current club Cardiff Blues have announced.

Sweeney has made over 100 appearances since joining the Blues from Newport Gwent Dragons in the summer of 2008, guiding them to the EDF Energy Cup in 2009 and the Amlin Challenge Cup the following year.

'I've really enjoyed my time with the Blues, they are a fantastic club and the supporters have been outstanding,' he said.

Talent: Ceri Sweeney played in the 2003 World Cup for Wales

Talent: Ceri Sweeney played in the 2003 World Cup for Wales

'For me, it's my home region and with the young players they have coming through the ranks, the future of the club certainly looks very bright.'

The 33-year-old will bring a wealth of experience with him to Sandy Park.

He made his debut for Wales in the 2003 Six Nations against England and also featured in two World Cups, winning a total of 35 caps for his club – the last of them in 2007.

Key man: Sweeney won 35 caps for his country in his international career

Key man: Sweeney won 35 caps for his country in his international career

Sweeney is now excited to make his mark in the Aviva Premiership.

'Exeter are a fantastic club and as soon as I heard they were interested in me, I was keen to talk to them and have a look around the place,' he added.

'Like a lot of people, I've watched how they have risen over the last few years and how they've made a real name for themselves, not just in the Premiership, but in Europe as well.

Longevity: Only the career of Stephen Jones prevented him from more caps

Longevity: Only the career of Stephen Jones prevented him from more caps

'It's an exciting move for me and my young family and it's a fresh challenge.

'I know it will be the first time I've played club rugby outside of Wales, but the thought of testing myself in the Premiership is something I'm really keen to do.'

Aaron Ramsey: It"s taken three years to get over Ryan Shawcross tackle

Ramsey: It's taken me three years to get over THAT tackle by Shawcross

By
Rob Draper

PUBLISHED:

21:38 GMT, 16 February 2013

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UPDATED:

03:41 GMT, 17 February 2013

It will soon be three years since Aaron Ramsey was on the receiving end of that tackle from Stoke's Ryan Shawcross, a challenge that broke his leg in a manner which caused onlookers to wince and look away in disgust.

Three long years as far as Ramsey is concerned.

Breaking point: Ramsey tumbles in agony after Shawcross's challenge

Breaking point: Ramsey tumbles in agony after Shawcross's challenge

The unwanted anniversary comes at the
end of this month and although Ramsey was back playing by November
2010, it would be fair to say the injury and the vehemence of the tackle
had a greater effect on the 23-year-old than a mere nine-month absence.

He was on course to be a worldclass
player, his trajectory well ahead of compatriot Gareth Bale, and he
looked to be a potential replacement for Cesc Fabregas at Arsenal.

His comeback season was largely
spent on loan at Nottingham Forest and Cardiff. Last term he recovered
his identity as an Arsenal player.

Only this season has he shown the form that saw him lauded so early in his career.

'It was a really tough thing to go through and I don't wish it upon anybody,' said Ramsey.

'The determination and the
professionalism that you need, all the hours you have to spend in the
gym, it's quite tough. But I've got through that. It's taken me a bit
longer than I would've liked, but I'm happy now where I am, and hoping
to improve and carry on this good form that I'm in.'

His confidence was fractured as well as his leg.

Confidence soaring: Aaron Ramsey's (left) back in form for Arsenal

Confidence soaring: Aaron Ramsey's (left) back in form for Arsenal

'Yes, that's a natural thing,' he
said. 'Confidence is a massive thing and if you're struggling with that
it does reflect in your performances. But I've got that back now. I'm
hungry to keep that shirt and I've proved that with the way I've been
playing of late.

'There has been a good progression
and hopefully I can get back to where I was. That injury did take it out
of me and hopefully that will only have been a minor hiccup when I look
back on my career.'

Bayern Munich in the Champions League will this week provide an acid test, particular after yesterday's exit from the FA Cup.

Ramsey has to establish himself as a guaranteed pick, though 16 starts this season represents progress.

'I'm getting stuck in a lot more,' he
said. 'I'm winning a lot more balls back and reading the game better
and moving the ball quicker, which suit's the way we play. I've had
positive feedback from the boss.'

But he is aware of Arsenal's
eightyear trophy drought – the Champions League represents their last
chance of silverware this season – and of lost opportunities in Europe's
premier competition.

A 4-0 defeat by AC Milan cost them last year despite winning the home leg 3-0.

Before that they could not hold a 2-1 home-leg lead over Barcelona.

He said: 'Hopefully, we can get into a strong position against Bayern in the home leg and we'll be more experienced.'

Craig Bellamy gets six-month driving ban

No-show Bellamy slapped with six-month driving ban and fined after speeding offence

By
Mike Hornby, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

17:09 GMT, 29 January 2013

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UPDATED:

17:46 GMT, 29 January 2013

Craig Bellamy was banned from driving and fined today after admitting a motoring offence.

The former Wales captain did not attend Liverpool Magistrates Court where he was disqualified for six months and ordered to pay a 900 fine plus 400 costs.

The court heard Bellamy failed to respond to a police notice of intended prosecution.

As well as a six-month driving ban, Bellamy was fined over 1,300

Fined: As well as receiving a six-month driving ban, Craig Bellamy was fined 1,300

Simon Leong, prosecuting, said the notice was sent to the Cardiff City star after his Audi was caught by a speed camera travelling at 64mph in a 50mph section of the M62 towards Liverpool at 3.05am on April 3 last year.

At the time the former Manchester City and Newcastle United star was playing for Liverpool.

Mr Leong said: 'A notice of intended prosecution was sent to his address but the defendant did not respond.'

Bellamy, 33, was charged with failing to give a driver’s identity as required under section 172 of the Road Traffic Act.

He initially pleaded not guilty and a trial was set for November 27 last year but that had to be abandoned for medical reasons.

Bellamy changed his plea to guilty on
December 18, the day his rescheduled trial was due to take place, and
the matter was adjourned until today’s sentencing.

Bellamy didn't turn up to court, but had already entered a guilty plea

No-show: Bellamy didn't turn up to court, but had already entered a guilty plea

Bellamy already had three previous speeding offences on record

Penalty points: Bellamy already had three previous speeding offences on record

Mr Leong said Bellamy had totted up nine penalty points for three previous speeding offences.

'This offence carries six points taking him over the threshold for disqualification,' he added.

John Rowan, defending, told the court the star initially denied the offence because the notice was sent to an address where he was not living at the time.

'A plea of guilty was substituted in relation to that and he did accept that perhaps he could have done more to intercept the notice and ensure that the details were completed,' the solicitor said.

'The defendant understands he will be disqualified, that he is a totter with nine points and this carries a penalty of six.

'This is his first disqualification.'

Mr Rowan told the court he was not
provided with information about the defendant’s income but added: 'I
should point out that Mr Bellamy is a former Premiership footballer. He
is not currently playing in the Premier League but he is a professional
footballer.'

Deputy District Judge Simmons said: 'I must impose penalty points and six penalty points is the required number.

'Given
that he has nine penalty points already he must be disqualified from
driving for a period of six months under the totting up provisions.'

She
gave Bellamy credit of 10 per cent for his guilty plea, ordering a fine of 900
plus 400 costs and 15 victim surcharge which he must pay within 14
days.

Fraizer Campbell joins Cardiff City from Sunderland

Cardiff sign Campbell in bid for goals to fire them to top flight

By
David Kent

PUBLISHED:

16:12 GMT, 21 January 2013

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UPDATED:

17:40 GMT, 21 January 2013

Enlarge

On the move: Campbell has joined Cardiff from Sunderland

On the move: Campbell has joined Cardiff

Cardiff have signed Sunderland striker Fraizer Campbell on a three-and-a-half-year deal.

The 25-year-old England forward, moves to South Wales for an undisclosed fee having scored 10 times in 72 Sunderland appearances since joining from Manchester United.

Campbell came through the youth ranks at Old Trafford before signing as a professional for Sir Alex Ferguson's side in 2006.

He spent loan spells with Antwerp and
Tottenham but really made a name for himself at Hull, scoring 15 goals
in 32 starts and helping them reach the top flight.

Campbell says goodbye (via Twitter)

'Thanks for having me Sunderland it's been emotional I will miss it all. All the best for the rest of the season lads #hawaythelads'

After recovering from injury he made his
full England debut against Holland 11 months ago but has scored just
once in 15 appearances this season for the Black Cats.

Despite Cardiff sitting 10 points clear at the top of the Championship, none of their forwards have scored on a regular basis.

Heidar Helguson is their top scorer with just seven goals in 24 starts.

New start: Campbell's career never properly took off at Sunderland

New start: Campbell's career never properly took off at Sunderland

Nottingham Forest and Blackburn Rovers sack managers – Michael Walker

'Tis the season to sack managers in desperation

|

UPDATED:

23:11 GMT, 27 December 2012

Blackburn Rovers host Nottingham Forest on New Year’s Day. That should make for an interesting pre-match boardroom. The sometimes-present Indian owners of Blackburn (founded 1875) may be at Ewood Park to shake hands with the sometimes-present Kuwaiti owners of Forest (founded 1865).

/12/27/article-2253953-16A8F759000005DC-402_468x286.jpg” width=”468″ height=”286″ alt=”Sacked: Forest dismissed Sean O'Driscoll despite sitting just one point outside the Championship play-offs” class=”blkBorder” />

Sacked: Forest dismissed Sean O'Driscoll despite sitting just one point outside the Championship play-offs

It feels at times in the Championship as if there is a giant game of scramble going on. Leicester City have made eight managerial changes since 2007. They remain a Championship club – one formed in 1884, now Thai-owned.

Malaysian-controlled Cardiff City replaced Dave Jones with Malky Mackay and forced a club called the Bluebirds (formed 1899) to play in red.

For Cardiff it is working. So far. They are five points clear at the top of the Championship and the Premier League are already thinking of them.

Cardiff are one of just six Championship clubs not to have played in the Premier League and, if they go up, would be ‘Club 46’ – meaning half the pyramid would have appeared in the Premier League.

That reveals a level of democracy and meritocracy we do not always associate with the 20-year-old breakaway league.

What we, and Championship club owners, think about more often is the wealth of the top flight.

Flying high: Cardiff City are top of the Championship wearing red

Flying high: Cardiff City are top of the Championship wearing red

If there is a logical reason O’Driscoll and Berg have been dismissed from their posts in the past 36 hours it is that: money.

When the term ‘Moneyball’ came into circulation it was meant to convey economic cuteness in sport, the recognising of the under-valued and exploiting it. In Championship reality, Moneyball is a phrase that conveys desperation, a chase, one increasingly fuelled by foreign money, one getting ever more urgent.

Talk to anyone in football and they will say this is a very good season to be promoted to the Premier League and a very bad one to be relegated from it. The explanation is the new TV rights deal, which kicks in next season.

The ballpark figure for a deal, which is around 80 per cent concluded, is that it will be worth 5billion to Premier League clubs over the next three seasons. Five billion.

Before a ball is kicked in August 2013 that means the club finishing 20th in May 2014 are guaranteed to bring in between 50-55million for simply being part of the elite. That is a jump from the 39m Wolves received from television for coming 20th last season.

With guaranteed parachute payments of approximately 34m over four seasons following relegation, it means there is an immediate financial reward of 85-90m for promotion this season.

Paying the price: Berg was only unveiled at Ewood Park on November 1

Paying the price: Berg was only unveiled at Ewood Park on November 1

Add the 10-15m impact of promotion on
season tickets, plus a hike in sponsorship fees and that ‘90m match’
that is the Championship play-off final becomes the ‘100m match’, maybe
even the 110m match. It’s a different form of Moneyball.

At Ewood Park they will know these figures keenly. Blackburn received just over 40m from TV in their relegation in May. They are now half a season into the first of four parachute payments totalling around 34m. These are front-loaded, so in the first two seasons the payments are about 11m, the following two are around 6m.

With their first lump of 11m, Blackburn spent 8m on Huddersfield Town striker Jordan Rhodes.

Rhodes has scored 11 goals in 20 Blackburn appearances but Rovers are 16 points off second-placed Hull City.

More promisingly, Rovers are eight points off the play-offs, which is a statistic to sell to wary managers. But there were only 12,000 people in attendance at Blackburn’s last home game.

Next season three other clubs will have 11m in parachute payments to spend. That will bring increased competition, more pressure and more managers being dropped off the Championship’s fiscal cliff.

Chris Wood will sign for Leicester for 1.5m

Foxes snare 1.5m West Brom hitman Wood to aid promotion push

|

UPDATED:

17:10 GMT, 27 December 2012

Leicester have won the battle to sign Chris Wood after
agreeing a 1.5million deal with West Brom for the free-scoring New Zealand
striker.

Wood has been in prolific form during a loan spell with
Millwall, who were anxious to turn his temporary stay into a permanent transfer and were competing with Leicester, Huddersfield and several other
clubs for his signature.

But the 21-year old has opted for Championship promotion
chasers Leicester and will be confirmed as a Foxes’ player shortly.

Goal machine: Chris Wood has been in fine fettle for Milwall

Goal machine: Chris Wood has been in fine fettle for Milwall

Leicester manager Nigel Pearson bemoaned his side’s lack of
a cutting edge after seeing them follow a 1-0 home defeat by Cardiff with a
goalless draw at Hull on Boxing Day.

He was adamant that the addition of more firepower could
prove vital to their promotion prospects and admitted he was hopeful of a
transfer breakthrough in the next few days.

Though he played down speculation
that he was closing in on Wood, the burly West Brom target man was always his
main priority and is now heading to the East Midlands to bolster Leicester’s
promotion push.