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Thursday, 30 November, 2000, 16:49 GMT
Contract talks start with Jeffers
Francis Jeffers
Everton are keen to hold on to Jeffers
Everton have opened new contract talks with teenage striker Francis Jeffers in an attempt to kill off speculation about his future.

Jeffers, currently out injured, has been linked with Manchester United and Tottenham this week.

But club chief executive Mike Dunford confirms that contract talks have already started with the local lad who has 18 months left on his current deal.

He said: "We have already opened discussions with the player's agent. We hope Francis sees his future at the club way beyond 2002."

Manager Walter Smith was clearly annoyed by transfer talk, and would only say: "He's injured, I don't think anyone will be bidding for an injured player. We have had no contact with any club about him."

Jeffers fell out with Smith at the beginning of last season over his request for a pay rise.

Media deal

Dunford said: "We are not in the business of selling our best players and we have had no contact from other club about him. "In any case, the manager will decide which players are bought and sold here, no one else."

Everton have also had to fend off claims that midfielder Alex Nyarko could also be sold amid worries about the club's financial position as they struggle to strike a media deal with cable company NTL.

Alex Nyarko
Transfer speculation still surrounds Alex Nyarko
Goalkeeper Thomas Myhre, out on loan with Tranmere, is the most likely player to move soon, with Hamburg interested in the Norwegian star.

Jeffers, meanwhile, has recovered from an ankle problem and has been training for a fortnight.

But he has experienced some discomfort and will visit a specialist for further treatment.

Intensive treatment

Paul Gascoigne has been ruled out of Monday's trip to Sunderland after failing to fully recover from the thigh injury that has sidelined him for three weeks.

It had been hoped that by Monday the midfielder would have been able to shake off the problem, sustained whilst taking a free-kick in the game against Aston Villa at the beginning of last month.

Gascoigne will now receive intensive treatment in a bid to be fit for the trip to Manchester City on Saturday week.

Despite this latest setback, the injury nightmare that has hit Everton in recent weeks is improving.

Back in contention after suffering from throat infections are Joe-Max Moore and Nyarko, while Niclas Alexandersson is also scheduled for a return to the squad.

Danish international Thomas Gravesen will be pushing for a recall after completing a two-match ban.

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