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Football: Desperate Lee has transfer go-ahead; DIVISION ONE.

Walsall manager Colin Lee has been burning the midnight oil after receiving a conditional green light to return to the transfer market, writes David Instone. A meeting with club owner Jeff Bonser yesterday afternoon offered the Saddlers boss encouragement that he might be able to push through one more signing before Thursday's deadline for the season.

Three defeats in the last four games have brought back relegation fears that seemed to have been laid to rest and Lee was expecting to be on duty until the early hours while closing in on his man.

'I have a target in mind and have been speaking to his agent,' he said. 'I've had an in-depth discussion with Jeff Bonser and we're trying to do something.

'But, as ever, it depends on finance. We're not just talking about a deal until the end of the season, but one for another couple of years on top and that's proving difficult because we are still not sure which division we are going to be in.'

Norwich City's Neil Emblen is one possibility after his New Year loan spell back in the West Midlands, although Lee is aware of the reticence among supporters about the signing of players with ex-Wolverhampton Wanderers connections. The same baggage would accompany any move for Molineux forward Michael Branch.

Some leeway has been established at Bescot with the return of Chris Shuker to Manchester City.

The speedy winger had a mixed month on loan and fell by the wayside from the mid-way point of the depressing defeat at home to Millwall two-and-a-half weeks ago.

Carl Robinson, meanwhile, is to turn to Crystal Palace midfielder Julian Gray in an effort to escape a three-match suspension.

The midfielder, who has departed on international duty, was sent off for the first time in his career in Saturday's 2-0 defeat at Selhurst Park - Walsall's sixth in ten matches - and faces the prospect of starting a ban when his parent club, Portsmouth, visit the West Midlands in 11 days' time.

But Lee is proposing contact with the Palace man after watching a video re-run of the incident.

'We've studied it from different angles and slowed it down and there's no doubt Carl's arms are high,' the manager said. 'But Julian Gray has apparently said he was caught only by Carl's fingers, not his elbow. If he will speak on his behalf, we may have a chance of doing something.'

Walsall also had skipper Martin O'Connor red-carded.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Mar 25, 2003
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