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BRUCE SET TO BOSS BLUES!; But Rudge is next in line.

Steve Bruce is set to replace Trevor Francis as Birmingham boss within days.

He will be offered the job only until the end of the season when the St Andrew's board will move for Port Vale's veteran boss John Rudge.

Francis - whose team play high-flying neighbours West Brom today - looks set for the axe after next Saturday's clash against Portsmouth.

The board want time to finalise a pay-off package for Francis which is believed to be in the region of pounds 150,000.

Co-owners David Sullivan, and David and Ralph Gold have been incensed by the war of words which broke out between Francis and his skipper after he was dropped for last weekend's match at Forest.

Bruce immediately threatened a possible departure when his contract runs out in the summer .

That has forced the board to come down firmly on one side or the other and I understand Bruce is about to win the stand-off. And Rudge knows he can be a long-term winner too.

Rudge will be approached at the end of the season with Bruce holding the fort until then. The Blues skipper is happy at the prospect of becoming assistant to one of the league's most experienced managers next season as he believes he has another year left in him as a player.

Former Manchester United skipper Bruce indicated his desire to move into management when he was offered the Wolves job prior to Mark McGhee's appointment before his move to Birmingham.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Southon, Hugh
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 23, 1997
Words:246
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