Last updated : 03 January 2003 By Editor
From Teamtalk:

Ruud van Nistelrooy is set to return for Manchester United against Portsmouth following a two-game absence with a toe problem.

Goalkeeper Fabien Barthez is the main doubt as United get ready to face First Division leaders Portsmouth in the third round of the FA Cup at Old Trafford. The France international has been under treatment since injuring a thigh muscle during Wednesday's victory over Sunderland.

If he fails to make it, Ferguson looks likely to turn to Northern Ireland star Roy Carroll ahead of Spain international Ricardo, who has been on the bench for most of the season.

Nicky Butt expects to resume full training in the next week after being out of action since October following ankle surgery.

"I'm pretty close now. It is just a case of hoping I get no reaction from the ballwork I am going to start doing in the next couple of days and with a bit of luck I will be training within a week.

"The physios have told me that if I rush back and it swells up again it could be another couple of months, so it would be silly to do that and I have just got to be patient."

"When you are coming back, and I have been speaking to Rio Ferdinand and David Beckham about this, you don't just expect to get back in when they are playing so well.

"You just want to get training and get involved and if the manager picks you then you take your chance.

"You can't just expect to go back into the team straight away so I will have to be patient.”

The Sun claims:
Damien Duff is being hunted by Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson. Old Trafford chief Fergie sees the Blackburn winger, 23, as the right man to help United crank up their Premiership title charge.

Fergie would have to part with around £12million to land the Republic of Ireland international, who emerged as one of the big hits of last year's World Cup.

Blackburn boss Graeme Souness will fight tooth and nail to keep prize asset Duff but he knows the bottom line is money talks.

The MEN reports:
Sir Alex Ferguson has gone on 'blue alert' following the news that Chelsea star Eidur Gudjohnsen is unhappy at Stamford Bridge.

The quicksilver Icelandic striker, who began his English career at Bolton, has held crisis talks with manager Claudio Ranieri after spending much of the hectic holiday schedule on the sidelines.

Even before this week's showdown with his manager, Gudjohnsen's future at Stamford Bridge was in doubt after the London club cancelled talks over a new contract.

The latest dispute about Gudjohnsen's lack of regular first-team soccer is sure to interest United boss Ferguson, who would love to add the exciting young striker to the glittering list of stars already on the Old Trafford pay-roll.

Elsewhere RI has heard Simon Davies is virtually a done deal at £13m though the fee would seem excessive and we note the Sun claims today Spurs have knocked United’s approach back. We’ll keep you informed.