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Debt collector threatens Blues.

DEBT collector Kevin Francis aims to settle an old score with his former skipper Steve Bruce next week and wreck Blues' play-off hopes at the same time.

If the former St Andrew's striker has his way, Blues will leave Oxford United's Manor Ground without a point and minus a few quid.

But while the 6ft 7in striker is totally serious about his football, he will still find time for a joke with the players he used to share a dressing room with.

Before Francis's pounds 100,000 move to Oxford, he struck a bet with Bruce who wagered that England would beat the West Indies in the recent Test cricket series in the Caribbean.

As it turned out, Brian Lara led the West Indies to a 3-1 win and now Francis wants his cash.

"I'll be collecting a few debts next week," he said. "I couldn't believe Brucey took me up on that one, I think he was living in hope really.

"I'm not saying how much I stand to pick up, but let's just say he can afford it! and I think there'll be some other winnings for me which I can't reveal."

Blues will head for Oxford on Saturday with their play-offs hopes finely balanced.

Trevor Francis's men have only one game left after that so victory is crucial to their outside hopes of promotion.

But Oxford's Francis had seven goals to his name from 11 matches before yesterday a good ratio in anyone's book, and he would love to score against Blues, even though he was born and raised close to St Andrew's.

In the end, though, it was made clear his future was away from Blues.

"It's nothing personal at all," he said. "I still know lots of people at Blues and see players like Michael Johnson quite a lot."

But while Francis still feels for Blues, he knows his old loyalties have to be discarded.

"I'll be going all out to win the game for Oxford," he said. "And I won't be feeling sorry for Blues if they miss out on the play-offs because they lose this match."

Francis made just two starts at Blues this season but was on the bench 18 times. Now though, he is enjoying a new lease of life at Oxford in more ways than one.

"I'm getting more first team football which is what I wanted," he said. "And I'm also feeling happier off the field, my friends and family all tell me that."

Tamworth-based Francis, 30, has also become an international this season with St Kitts-Nevis.

He qualifies to play for them via his parents and was called up to make his debut for them last month in a four-team tournament.

"I played a couple of games but we didn't qualify, unfortunately, otherwise I'd have been back there in July," he said.

"But I hope to have some more games for them in the future. It was great to go and see St Kitts which is a fantastic island. I tracked down a few relatives whom I'd never met."
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Apr 19, 1998
Words:511
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