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McGhee taking another Spanish step forward.

Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Mark McGhee was last night hoping he'd turned his side's forthcoming campaign into a Spanish stroll after preparing to land his first pre-season signing, with just three days to spare.

Former Spain midfielder Fernando Gomez capped 12 times for his country is expected to have signed in time for Saturday's Division One opener with Tranmere Rovers at Molineux. But, despite being confident that it would go through before the weekend, McGhe e is still being kept waiting by surplus striker Steve Claridge over his planned pounds 175,000 move to Portsmouth.

As the much-travelled Claridge waits to chalk up the 14th move of his pro career, Wolves are ready to get their hands on a one-club man with every suggestion that the experienced Gomez, 32, could prove a real steal after being lured on a free transfer fr om Valencia.

Gomez, skipper of his side until last season, has been released despite having a year left on his contract. And, in following wartime character Emilio Aldecoa, and last season's brief loan signings Jesus Sanjuan and Isidro Diaz as the fourth Spaniard to play for Wolves, McGhee is hopeful that he has solved a long-standing midfield problem.

"Ferdy is just the sort of player I've been chasing for the past two years," admits McGhee. "He's a right-sided midfielder who likes going forward and gets goals.

"He's very popular with the Valencia fans and they didn't want him to leave but, because of the service he'd given, he was allowed to become a free agent.

"If the international clearance comes through, I could throw him in against Tranmere, but more realistic would be Barnet in the League Cup on Tuesday."

As Gomez prepares for a new life in the Black Country, fellow 32-year-old Claridge is uncertain about returning to his home town. "I still want to go back to Portsmouth," he admits. "But we're a long way apart on fee and wages."

Although Wolves are prepared to halve the cost of Claridge's pounds 350,000 arrival from Leicester last March, they are not interested in Pompey's proposed swap deal involving Paul Hall and Fitzroy Simpson.

Walsall yesterday signed striker Jason Brissett from Bournemouth and winger Darren Wrack from Grimsby, in time for their opening Division Two game at Gillingham on Saturday.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 6, 1998
Words:382
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