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Leeds United News from The Sporting Life    Yorkshire Evening Post


December 31: That's about it for the year 2000. It's been a year of ups and downs, and although the club isn't doing brilliantly in the league at the moment, with the players we have and with DOL in the hot seat we should be able to turn it around and move forward - starting with Boro at Elland Road tomorrow. Marching on together into 2001 - Happy New Year folks!

December 31: Peter Ridsdale hopes that he'll never have to turn down a request from DOL to buy a player. "Just over a year ago in the summer of 1999, a number of people questioned whether David would be given the funds to build a squad at this football club. I would like to feel we have answered that very clearly," the chairman said. Ridsdale added: "While we are aware of our responsibilities as a public company, we will also fulfil our ambition to be a top quality Premiership and European side." Rough translation: we will continue to buy the players we want, but don't expect us to have 25 internationals competing for places....which is fair enough in the circumstances.

December 31: David Batty looks set to be DOL's choice to replace the suspended Eirik Bakke for the Boro game. Batty's presence should bring a bit more stability to the line-up, but if he really wants to attack from the off, the manager could tinker with the formation and start with Robbie Keane, who's looked to be a pretty good player in his two substitute appearances so far.

December 31: Colin Cooper and Paul Ince are both doubts for tomorrow's game after picking up injuries against Coventry. Steve Vickers would be the likely defensive replacement, with Robbie Mustoe acting as midfield cover for Ince.

December 31: Chelsea are the latest side to be linked with out-of-favour Ian Harte. They need some cover in that department, but he speaks English so the chances of him signing for Chelsea are minimal. I really hope Harte stays, loses a bit of weight, regains a bit of speed and fights for his place: he's done great service for us in the past and can continue to do so in the future if he convinces DOL.

December 30: Leeds Sporting's plans for an arena at Elland Road look to be an even more microscopic possibility with the news that the company are examining what else could be built on the land. With few sports arenas turning a profit, the company are keener to proceed with the hotel development: this may pick up some conference business plus the massive bunch of Scandinavians and Irish supporters who come over for the games, but it's hard to see many other people choosing a place in Leeds 11 over the Holiday Inn, Queens, 42 or Malmaison if they're tourists or business travellers.

December 30: With games being called off all over the country, there's still a question mark over the New Year's Day game against Boro. The pitch may be okay, but there's always the question of public safety and the final decision may be taken before David Elleray's Monday morning pitch inspection. Elleray will be staying in Leeds alone tomorrow night (such dedication) so if there are any revellers in his hotel, please make him feel welcome and don't keep him awake all night and we might keep him sweet for the game :-)

December 30: Darren Huckerby managed a goal on his debut for Manchester City today, but since it was a 90th minute penalty that didn't really do much good against the four goals Charlton scored in the previous 89 minutes. Jamie Forrester made it 17 goals for the season as Northampton drew 2-2 at home to Wycombe. Noel Whelan's first half own goal for his old friends at Coventry was equalised by Alen Boksic late on - it's Whelan's birthday and today was his 200th League appearance, so at least his celebrations won't be overshadowed too much by his performance. Back in Leeds-land, we dropped a further 2 places to 14th today as a result of others gaining points while we didn't play.

December 29: Looks like the postponement might do us a little bit of good: Harry Kewell would have been struggling to make the game after picking up a calf injury in the Boxing Day defeat by Newcastle: now he gets an extra couple of days to recuperate rather than trying to play and aggravating the problem.

December 29: It's been confirmed that Darren Huckerby will move to Manchester City for £2.5 million, with a further £500,000 payable on completion of a number of appearances. Or is it £3 million with £600,000 for appearances? Take your pick. Huckerby made 14 starts and 42 substitute appearances for Leeds, scoring just 6 goals and his hopes of a regular place all but evaporated with the arrival of Robbie Keane. The paperwork beat the deadline, so he'll be available for tomorrow's game against Charlton.

December 29: The heavy snowfall at Goodison Park overnight has resulted in Everton calling tomorrow's game off. I'm sure the flu-ravaged state of Walter Smith's teamsheet had absolutely nothing to do with it, honest. No date has been arranged for the game yet, and it looks like it will have to fit in somewhere towards the end of the season unless both teams meet an untimely end to their FA Cup runs. Eirik Bakke will now miss the Boro game, but Lee Bowyer's suspension for the Barnsley game doesn't change.

December 28: Run Forrest! Run! Over the M62 to Maine Road for talks with Joe Royle's up-and-down mob as they try to set up a second branch of Leeds-in-exile for us to support when the Whites aren't playing. Expect a decision tomorrow that is likely to put an end to Huckerby's fairly miserable time at Elland Road and which will push Leeds' bank balance marginally nearer the black (though we can expect to take a £1 million loss on Huckerby after 16 months). Expect also a hat-trick for Hucks should he turn out for City against Leeds in January.

December 28: Rio made a stand against the sections of the press that have decried his move to Leeds as the actions of a money-grabber. With a less than wonderful set of results for the club since his arrival, Rio insists he's not motivated by money and wants to win a trophy with his new club. "It was a real wrench to leave West Ham because I've got so many friends there and the club gave me my chance in football. That's why I had to think long and hard before I decided to leave." He added: "I am at a club where I can realise my ambitions of winning medals and playing in Europe. It will also help my England career being at Leeds. They are as ambitious as I am."

December 28: Lucas Radebe added his voice to the manager's call for more consistency and stressed the importance of Saturday's game. "We badly need a result and we're under pressure now because the gap is growing between ourselves and the top teams. We're losing too many points. We have to start looking at ourselves, especially at home because we can't afford to lose any more games at Elland Road."

December 28: Let's hope that Everton's injury problems don't affect them as well as Newcastle's did. Kevin Campbell, Niclas Alexandersson, Mark Pembridge and Stephen Hughes are all doubts ahead of Saturday's game with flu. Duncan Ferguson is well short of match fitness but may start against a Leeds defence that might find him easier to handle than someone smaller and quicker. Famous last words....

December 27: Post-holiday transfer rumours: Hucks to Celtic (again), Harte to Sunderland, money to the banks to keep them happy. I really am an optimist - but we're 6 points away from the relegation zone and 21 points off the top. DOL's said it's not good enough, and I heartily concur - if we don't make it into Europe next season it could deal a disastrous blow to our hopes of retaining our best players and we may end up with a happy bank manager but a very sorry team manager.

December 27: DOL says: "We looked very dodgy at the back and we lost to a team with much more passion." Since we drafted in Rio, that seems to be a recurring problem. Not that it's Rio's fault if the midfield decide not to provide cover and create no chances for the front men, but you can't help thinking that the two facts are related.

December 27: Olivier Dacourt is looking forward to his return to Goodison Park on Saturday. "The most important thing is how the team does. We have to beat Everton if we are to get anywhere near the top four. After our recent results we know we must also beat Middlesbrough two days later." Wise words mate - let's hope it turns out that way.

December 27: There will be some enforced midfield changes in the next few games: Eirik Bakke will miss the Everton game with a suspension and Lee Bowyer will be out for the Barnsley game for the same reason. This could be the chance to give David Batty a couple of starts - or it could be another chance to play Lucas Radebe or Gary Kelly in midfield.

December 23: DOL isn't impressed with the inconsistency currently on display from his side. "We seem to be at a stage where we play good in one game and then in the next we're on a low. It's like we're on a roller coaster. The team did well last year on a consistent basis, but this year we are not finding any consistency." He added: "I didn't come here to manage a side that's 12th in the league." Too right mate - and we're now in need of 9 wins in a row in the league against teams we really do need to beat if we're to justify our claims for regular European football.

December 23: Gareth Southgate managed two goals last season - both against Leeds. And we provided him with yet another this season from yet another set piece to go a goal down just before half time. Batts didn't even make the bench, and with Olivier Dacourt suspended, it was Lucas Radebe playing in a defensive midfield role. Robbie Keane nearly scored towards the end of the game, but Villa went straight down the other end to seal it, despite Jon Woodgate's late consolation goal. And the totally unbiased Radio Aire commentators reckoned we had a rock solid penalty turned down, so it's a moral draw then.

December 23: Manchester City are the latest club to be linked with Darren Huckerby - it can't be long before one of these rumours solidifies into a real move. Meanwhile Peter Ridsdale dismissed rumours that part of the Robbie Keane deal involved the Italian giants being given first refusal on Harry Kewell's services were he to ask for a move.

December 23: DOL is projecting a great future for new signing Robbie Keane. While agreeing that we'd agreed to pay a lot of money for a player who has yet to fully prove himself at the highest level, DOL said: "We are buying potential, not the finished article. Mentally he gives me the impression that he is out of the Alan Shearer mould, someone who wants to perform on the big stage at a big club. He has the hunger to be a great player and that's what we want."

December 22: Some gossip from Scouseland has it that Robbie Keane really wanted to go to Anfield, but Liverpool would ante up what Inter wanted. The same source laughably suggests that we might consider swapping Harry Kewell for Robbie Fowler ...errr... gaining what precisely? With Olivier Dacourt suspended and Lucas Radebe back from suspension/international duty and David Batty keen to get back into the fray it could make for a very interesting selection for DOL tomorrow. Julian Joachim and Ian Taylor are very doubtful for Villa, but Darius Vassell returns.

December 22: It's official: Robbie Keane passed his medical this afternoon and has been paraded in front of the press to confirm that he'll be a Leeds player until at least the end of the season. He'll take "some part" in tomorrow's game with Villa according to DOL - no doubt starting on the bench since he's not played that many first team games for Inter.

December 22: Robbie Keane has spent some time with an old friend on his return to England. Leeds physio Dave Hancock has spent most of the last two days checking out the young forward's fitness and overall condition prior to finalising the loan move. A few years ago Hancock was taking care of Keane on a regular basis when they were both at Wolves - they've both gone up in the world quite a bit since then (sorry Wolves fans).

December 22: Mick McCarthy joined the list of people queuing up to sing Robbie Keane's praises. The Ireland manager has seen Keane win 22 caps for his country and thinks he'll be a big success at Elland Road. "His attitude and willingness to learn make him a pleasure to work with. He's already a hero in Dublin and he'll soon become one in Leeds as well. There's no doubt about it that, fitness permitting, he's always going to be a first-choice in my team. It will be a bonus for me that he's going to play regularly with a top English team now, but the fact he wasn't doing that in Italy never coloured my judgement of him.

December 22: Rumours of Darren Huckerby's impending departure to Celtic get stronger every day - but Mark Burchill's failure to complete a move to Birmingham may leave the Glasgow club short of the money needed to make the move, and Peter Ridsdale made it clear that the club hadn't received a formal approach for the player. Leeds are still interested in acquiring Kieron Dyer, but Newcastle are adamant that their young star is available for £15 million cash - and that a player exchange involving one or more of Huckerby, Ian Harte and Danny Mills would not be acceptable. We'll see what happens...

December 21: The Man U home game is - surprise surprise due to be televised on Sky, but is likely to move if either team get to the 5th round of the FA Cup and get taken to a replay (a midweek international occupies the slot that the replay would normally fall into, so don't book those train tickets yet).

December 21: Alan Smith will be the first English player to sport a brand new line in boots. The all-white Nike Air Zoom Total 90 boots are currently used by Edgar Davids and could be seen in Saturday's game against Villa. Nike didn't mention whether they chose Smith because of his goal-scoring ability or because of his renowned aggression (which might just lead to an interesting colour contrast on their expensive footwear).

December 21: Robbie Keane said that he had mixed emotions about leaving Inter, but that Leeds was the Premiership team he most wanted to come to. "They asked me which team I would join if I had a choice and I told them it would be Leeds. I have a lot of friends at Elland Road and I have heard from them what a fantastic spirit David O'Leary has created and I am convinced they will be a major force in the game for the forseeable future." To finance his arrival in July, it's likely that we'll see one or two departures, with Ian Harte and Darren Huckerby looking favorites to be first out of the door. Peter Ridsdale indicated that the right price would tempt the club into selling some of the current squad: "David and I have both agreed on what the size of the squad should be, and as we bring players in it tops up that squad in terms of quality. But we will listen to offers for players who can't get into the side, just as we did for Matthew Jones just over a week ago."

December 20: Peter Ridsdale topped a fans poll to find the best chief executive in the PL. His commitment and major fan credentials meant he finished head and shoulders ahead of second-placed Ken Bates and a country mile ahead of heading-for-the-exit Alan Sugar.

December 20: Stats released today place Leeds firmly at the top of the Premier League in transfer fees. With a deficit of over £50 million, we're well clear of the other big spenders, Man U, Liverpool, Newcastle and Spurs. Arsenal's sale of Petit and Overmars brought them to a relatively low deficit, and although West Ham would have been just in the black, the sale of Rio leaves them far and away the most profitable on the transfer market.

December 20: What a strike force! Smith, Viduka, Kewell, Bridges (from March) and now Robbie Keane as well. Inter's young Irish star has signed on loan to the end of the season with an option to make the move permanent for £12 million: sound move, sound business. He won't be eligible for the Champions League games, having played for Inter in a qualifier, but the move to Leeds was his preferred option: at worst we get a youngster who will try to put himself in the shop window for 5 months, at best we've got a great prospect for the future. As for Darren Huckerby, the arrival of Keane and the rumours linking leeds with Emmanuel Petit to strengthen the midfield must leave him looking for the exit door.

December 20: Alan Smith has been handed a 3 match international ban by UEFA for the red card he picked up in the U21 game against Finland earlier this year.

December 19: Hassan Kachloul will be charged by the FA with misconduct "due to violent and threatening behaviour towards Lee Bowyer" after being sent off by ref Paul Durkin. He could face up to three further matches on the sidelines if found guilty.

December 19: David Batty spoke of his appreciation at the reception the crowd gave him on his return to the team on Saturday. After a year out, and having not done that much since his big-money return due to persistent injury problems, he was happy that the fans had not forgotten him. "I came on for Dacourt to a reception I will never forget," he said. "I really enjoyed it and it felt good out there."

December 19: Damien Lynch has found himself added to the Leeds injury list. He picked up an injury in last week's reserve game and after a brief but promising loan spell at Huddersfield and with another possible loan lined up, he must have been hoping for a move and the chance of first-team football, but that's on the back-burner for now.

December 19: Who's the b*****ds in the black? Various staff at Elland Road have been seen in what's supposed to be next year's away strip - and it's black (think Man U's 14th change strip a couple of years ago). The yellow strip will be on special offer over Christmas in the club shops and will almost certainly vanish totally next year (apart from when we play clubs that play in black and white like Derby (if they stay up)).

December 19: Latest "give-it-a-rest" rumour connects us with Robbie Fowler. He's been left out of a few squads, he's rumoured to not get on with Michael Owen and he'd cost over £10 million - so of course we're connected with him. Even less believable are the hints that Darren Huckerby might go in the opposite direction: selling Camara and buying Huckerby would appear to be a zero-sum game for Houillier with no rhyme nor reason to back it up. At a slightly lower level, we're also said to be interested in a 17-year-old striker from Rochdale: expect an extra zero to appear on Josh Ford's valuation real soon.

December 18: Lucas Radebe's appearance in South Africa's 2-1 win over Liberia on Sunday broke the South African record for international caps. Former Leeds striker Phil Masinga scored one of the goals to keep them on course for the World Cup.

December 18: Dodgy refs at Old Trafford part 2. Alex Ferguson reckons that Mike Riley sent off Luke Chadwick because he - Riley - is from Leeds. The fact that Chadwick had spent 50 yards trying to pull Smicer back (though there was a bit of reciprocation there) was conveniently ignored by Ferguson. FA inquiry anyone??

December 18: Dodgy refs at Old Trafford part 1. Alan Smith's booking for "fouling" one of the Man U defenders was rescinded after video evidence showed he'd been nowhere near (at the time I thought he'd been done for dissent since he'd been so far away). Alex Ferguson has not commented on the impact of Jeff Winter's booking on Smith's performance for that game.

December 18: DOL paid tribute to Leeds' new physio Dave Hancock and his team as their charges shake off their injuries and return. "Along with the players concerned he was worked long and hard toward these comebacks. I didn't think Harry would get through 90 minutes, but he did." Although nobody specifically pointed the finger at his predecessor Dave Swift, the latter's departure after a rash of injuries taking a long time to heal did lead to many people drawing their own conclusions - but maybe he was just unlucky and at the moment Dave Hancock is having an equal but opposite run of luck.

December 17: The likelihood of Lazio having a new manager when we face them in the spring increased today as Lazio lost the Rome derby 1-0 with an own-goal from Paulo Negro. Lazio lie 10 points behind their arch-rivals, and although they finished strongly to win the title last time round the owners and fans are getting impatient. There was more trouble from the racist section of Lazio fans, with abusive banners and chants directed at Roma's black players coming from the Lazio crowd. Elsewhere, Real Madrid hit the top of La Liga by winning at Espanol on Saturday before Valencia retook the lead with a 2-0 win at home to Malaga. Anderlecht won 3-0 against Aalst and are now 14 points clear of third-placed Standard Liege, but remain 3 points adrift of leaders Club Brugge.

December 17: Ian Harte may have seemed like a fixture at Elland Road for some time now, but his absence from the 16 selected on Saturday is giving rise to stronger and stronger rumours that his career at Elland Road is about to come to an end. Newcastle's name keeps on cropping up and he might find himself facing his current team-mates at St James Park on Boxing Day if they turn out to be true.

December 17: Derek Lilley capped his debut for Dundee United with a goal against Rangers at Tannadice as the home side unexpectedly held out for a 1-1 draw. That's equalled his tally for Leeds, so everything else will be a bonus :-)

December 17: DOL was very happy with what he saw yesterday. "For the first time this season I watched us playing the way I know we can play and that was because of the players we had back. I told the players after the game that I hoped that this result is the start of us kicking on in the Premier League." Peter Reid was pleased with his team's performance, despite the result. "We will play a lot worse than that and get a result and, although I'm disappointed about us losing the game, it is a hard place to come."

December 16: A couple of late alarms, but with a 2-0 win and the return of David Batty, this was an excellent day for Leeds. Rob Styles, who didn't exactly inspire us as ref against Tranmere, gave Emerson Thome yards of rope, but didn't pull the trap door away in first half injury time as Thome caught Smith very late after being booked earlier. Smithy had an excellently taken goal ruled out for a dodgy offside, but we really needed this.

December 16: Ex-Leeds players on the score-sheet today included Gary Speed with Newcastle's first against Bradford and Big Robert Molenaar who got one back, but Newcastle held on to win 2-1. Alfi Haaland scored Man City's first goal - but after leading 2-1 against Villa's 10 men, Joe Royle's men let it slip and could only manage to draw 2-2.

December 16: DOL has spoken out against the people who are pessimistic about Leeds' chances of qualifying for Europe next season (hi there!). In fairness, he was very realistic and had left the rose-tinted spectacle at home. "We have lost a lot of ground and we have got to start making it up. Three points for a win helps that cause. We have four games left in the Premiership, including today against Sunderland, before the end of the year and 12 points from those fixtures would bring an entirely different look to the league table."

December 16: DOL will probably have to sell again if he wants to buy too many more players. The departure of Matthew Jones has put a bit more money in the kitty, but with a net deficit of more than £40 million there's got to be some slight balancing of the books at some point. With the latest rumours of a bid of £13 million for Robbie Keane and Ian Harte plus £4 million for Kieron Dyer, the money has to come from somewhere.

December 15: Mark Viduka and Lee Bowyer are sponsoring a dog at the National Canine Defence League's Leeds rehoming centre as part of the NCDL's "Give a Dog a Life" campaign. Viduka - whose own dog is reputed to be the only one who knows what his target for the season is - said: "I know the dedication you need to have a dog. The scheme is a great way to enjoy the love of a dog without the worry of ownership. We are glad the club is letting us sponsor this worthwhile campaign."

December 15: Mark Beeney is making a minor comeback nearly two years after being forced to retire with a ruptured achilles. He's signed up to Doncaster Rovers to provide cover, and although he knows he's not going to be able to get up to Premier League levels of fitness, he's hoping to get a few games in the Conference and continue at that level if he stays free of injuries.

December 15: Carlton Palmer will be teaming up with the man who gave him his England caps! Graham Taylor will be taking the gangly one on a three month loan at Watford to try to bolster their faltering promotion efforts.

December 15: The City doesn't understand us! The share price hit 11.5 pence yesterday - half of what it was in July - valuing the club at just £46.5 million. Obviously the transfer uncertainties make determining an accurate valuation difficult, but with the freehold of the ground and the likes of Rio, Harry Kewell, Alan Smith, Mark Viduka, Lee Bowyer and Paul Robinson on long contracts, that's got to be too low. Peter Ridsdale and others connected with the board are understood to have bought some shares to support the price - and to take advantage of what would appear to be a bargain. The shares closed at 13.0 pence on Friday.

December 15: Chelsea have agreed a fee for Robbie Keane with Inter Milan. His wage demands are not likely to be in the same league as JFH, but he is reported as preferring to stay in Italy or wait for a move to Leeds. But if Chelsea can offer him first team football, a cut of the transfer fee and decent wages he might just move. At least I might be able to give my fingers a rest from typing "Keane transfer rumours" in before the New Year! Meanwhile Roma are apparently interested in signing Mark Viduka. Peter Ridsdale would be advised to get his big stick out and scare them away pretty damn quick!

December 15: Looks like Batts could be on the bench for tomorrow's game against Sunderland after coming through the reserve game last night. He'll be joined by Nigel Martyn, who might be needed if Paul Robinson's injury gets any worse in the next day. Lucas Radebe is suspended and on international duty, so a back four looks to be the order of the day. Speaking of last night's game, there were numerous scouts (27 according to some reports) at the game with Darren Huckerby the obvious target. Hucks scored two goals and nearly had his third reserve hat-trick of the season, which should go some way to impressing two of his former clubs - Newcastle and Coventry - with Celtic and Manchester City also interested, but Ian Harte is also reported to be a target of Newcastle since he fell from current favour at Elland Road.

December 14: West Ham tried to become the second club to use Leeds' money to buy Robbie Keane. After Cov used the Huckerby money last year, Harry Redknapp offered Inter £10 million for the services of the young Irishman, but they couldn't agree terms and Redknapp reckons the Italians aren't really keen on losing Keane.

December 14: If you're in Leeds, drop in to Lee Chapman's Teatro restaurant and drop off a present. The striker turned food dude is collecting presents for kids who will be in hospital over Christmas - to be delivered by members of the current Leeds squad. And if you leave your name you could win a meal for two at the posh eaterie.

December 14: As an indication of Peter Taylor's intentions, Matthew Jones must be very happy to find himself given the number 7 shirt previously held by Neil Lennon. Peter Ridsdale wished Jones the best of luck, and felt that the move was a good one for the Welshman and that Leeds had got a good price. "He's a good player and that is obviously reflected in the fee - Leicester think that otherwise they wouldn't have bought him." Jones in turn was looking forward to the challenges ahead of him - starting with the game against Charlton this weekend. He'd been flattered by the interest shown by Leicester but wanted to remain in the Premiership, and "the club felt right for me as soon as I drove through the training ground gates. It was a feeling like when you buy a new home. You go in the house and think `this is the one for me' and that was the feeling I instantly had here."

December 14: David Batty played the full 90 minutes in tonight's reserve game against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough. The sides finished level at 3-3, as Leeds continue to slip in their league after an excellent start to the season. Not that it matters much... With no more reserve games lined up until the New Year, Batts will be hoping that he can work his way back into the side from the bench - maybe even starting on Saturday.

December 14: On the day when the Metropolitan police raided a number of houses at dawn and made some arrests, Rio appealed to people back home in Peckham to come forward with information about the murder of 10-year-old Damilola Taylor. His appeal will appear on TV and radio stations, and is aimed at getting teenagers to reveal anything they know about the killing. Anyone with information about Damilola's death should ring the incident room on 020 8247 4567, Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111, or children can call Childline on 0800 1111.

December 14: Huckerby out! Well, that's today's transfer rumour. Forrest would cost a prospective buyer around £2.5 million - which is quite a bit less than we paid for him, but his stock has gone down a bit in a year of limited appearances though he'd still be of interest to quite a few clubs - Man City, Celtic and Charlton all crop up in various circles. Dyer in? Another old one resurfaces that might have some basis in fact if and only if DOL is looking for a wing back in a 5-3-2 formation, cos it's hard to see him starting regularly unless some of the current first team drop off the face of the earth. And if we can spend £18 million on a defender, why not £43 million on Ronaldinho? That's what the chairman of PSG reckoned Leeds had offered Gremio as he tried to talk up his own bid for the young Brazilian. On a slightly less expensive note, Derek Lilley has moved from Oxford United back up to Scotland, joining Dundee for about £100,000.

December 14: With Paul Robinson still carrying and injury, Nigel Martyn will almost certainly not be risked in tonight's reserve match against Sheffield Wednesday to reduce the chance of him picking up an injury when he might be needed between the sticks against Sunderland on Saturday.

December 14: According to a new survey, the women who follow Leeds down more beer than the men who follow Chelsea. No surprises there then. Southern Jessies! Apparently, Newcastle fans buy the most health food (ha!) and although more than half of Leeds' support comes from outside West Yorkshire, only 31% of ManU's fans live in the North West.

December 14: Hasan Kachloul has apologised for his behaviour in Saturday's game. He's been fined by the Saints for his red card and subsequent behaviour, and will be hoping to head off further punishment. "The match had been played in a hard but fair spirit up until that last 10 minutes, and I certainly hope the bad feeling between the two clubs won't linger for long."

December 14: Matthew Jones sealed his move to Leicester last night. Peter Taylor was extremely happy to have the young Welshman on board. "He has got the potential to be like a David Batty, who is a tremendous player, and he is also a young Neil Lennon." I'm sure he's not referring to hairstyles here... As I said before, with Batts getting on and with injuries, suspensions and legal issues clouding the selection for the right side of Leeds midfield, it's a shame to lose him - but maybe his departure will presage the arrival of a new face in this position.

December 13: Peter Ridsdale is to be honoured by the Institute of Public Relations for his generally excellent management of communication with the press and the fans, and specifically for his exemplary conduct around the sad events in Turkey in April.

December 13: Our good chum Sven Goran Erickson is possibly no more than one match away from the Order of the Boot as Lazio were eliminated from the Italian Cup on aggregate by Udinese last night. It's the big Rome derby at the weekend - and failure to peg back league leaders and arch-rivals AS Roma could seal the Swede's fate.

December 13: The Youth Cup game against Southampton will take place on January 16 at Elland Road, tickets priced at £3.

December 13: Soccer Australia might invite Leeds and Celtic to a summer tournament in Melbourne - should be a good opportunity to seal a few deals and build a better relationship with our friends down under if it gets off the ground.

December 13: Back to the Norwegian drawing board: Brann have refused to allow Thorstein Helstad to play at Hillsborough tomorrow night.

December 13: Lucas Radebe went from wanting to leave the club to signing a new contract in less than 12 hours if the press are to be believed today! This morning, some reports had him a bit worried that DOL was going to play Rio and Woody at the back with him on the bench, and Spurs was mentioned as a possible destination if that fate were to befall him. By the end of the day, he'd agreed an extension to 2004 (but hasn't actually signed yet) and would also get a much-deserved testimonial.

December 13: No resolution on the Matthew Jones front yet: Leicester still look front-runners for £3 million. Seems a bit underpriced, but if the lad wants first team football, good luck to him. Sunderland and Derby are also reported to be interested and both could make a move before the deal has been sealed.

December 12: More positive news on the injury front: Michael Bridges is making better than expected progress in his recovery from the ankle injury that he picked up in Turkey. Although he might now be back before the end of the season, March is the earliest date being mentioned for his return, so don't expect a miracle.

December 12: Seeing things that aren't there department. Remember the 60s when every Beatles album cover was examined for evidence of the demise of Paul? No, neither do I, but the absence of Jon Woodgate, Lee Bowyer and Michael Duberry from the 2001 calendar is being read by some as conclusive evidence of the club's worries that the trio might be found guilty in the forthcoming trial. Being slightly more pragmatic (and given to rambling on and on), I'd say that Duberry remains a borderline player anyway, and Jon "Lurch" Woodgate and Lee "Scowling Whippet" Bowyer have been competing with each other for the job of "Team Milk Curdler" since the departure of David Hopkin. Would you want them on your wall for a month???

December 12: It looks like Matthew Jones is on his way - but where to? With his route to the first team blocked by Eirik Bakke, Lee Bowyer, Olivier Dacourt, the returning David Batty, and even Gary Kelly and Jacob Burns seemingly preferred to the young Welshman, the open admiration expressed by Blackburn manager Graeme Souness and Blackburn striker/Wales manager Mark Hughes would seem a better option if he is to advance his career. However, after Leeds accepted a bid of £2.75 million from the Lancashire club, it is reported that Leicester have topped the bid with Peter Taylor keen to find a replacement for Neil Lennon. We really shouldn't be getting rid of promising young players like this, but rumours of a falling out between the Leeds management and Jones after the youngster turned out for his country despite carrying an injury might just have some basis in reality and explain why Jones has moved down the pecking order. Having said that, he did have a total stinker against Leicester - which either says that Taylor is desperate or is desperately keen having seen a lot of potential in the 20-year-old.

December 12: With the outfield player crisis resolving itself we're now on the borders of a keeper crisis. Paul Robinson nearly missed the game at Southampton with an injury, and Danny Milosevic - who was so close to a debut at the weekend - has managed to pick up an injury of his own that has left him on crutches. If Robbo doesn't recover for the Sunderland game, we could end up with Chad Harpur and Shaun Alloway competing for a starting place. With our last-resort keeper - Lucas Radebe - banned and on international duty, things could be very tight at the back (or maybe this is how DOL envisages the 3 centre-back line-up working!). On the positive side Nige is likely to appear for the reserves alongside David Batty at Hillsborough this week as he starts his comeback from his groin injury. Speaking of Hillsborough, the on-off Norwegian saga may reactivate with the appearance of Thorstein Helstad if Brann finally relent and let him appear in Thursday's match.

December 12: Another tremendous result for Leeds Ladies at the weekend - they beat Huddersfield 8-0 in the Cup with 7 different players getting on the scoresheet.

December 11: Leeds are hoping that Barnsley will be a bit more sensible than Port Vale were for last year's FA Cup game. Vale insisted on full-price tickets being sold, so fans who were paying out £15 quid for Roma were then being asked for £20 quid plus for Port Vale, with the result that we had one of the lowest FA Cup attendances at Elland Road for many years. Leeds are suggesting a price of £12 a ticket or family packages for £30.

December 11: Lucas Radebe picked up his FIFA Fair Play award at the Player of the Year Gala in Rome tonight. The top award went to Zinedine Zidane for the second time. Lucas will become his country's most-capped player when he leads them against Liberia in a World Cup Qualifier at the weekend (the Sunderland suspension came at a most convenient time!).

December 11: Robert Molenaar could end up with an unwanted record (no - not Des O'Connor's latest album) after video evidence showed that it might have been him getting the final touch to the goal credited to Spurs' Ledley King after 10 seconds in Saturday's game.

December 11: Ref Paul Durkin has asked the FA to take a look at the incidents towards the end of the game on Saturday. From where I was sat, I'd think that Leeds players are in the clear and that the enquiry will focus on Kachloul's dismissal, but you never know what they'll "see".

December 11: Weekend transfer overspill: Mills to Leicester for Guppy (like we need another left-sided midfielder: Savage maybe...). Goal-machine/crock Michael Bridges or Darren Huckerby to return to the north-east in exchange for Kieron Dyer.

December 11: Olivier Dacourt's booking puts him in line for a suspension - he's already served two bans in Europe - for reaching 5 bookings in the league. He'll miss the Villa game before Christmas. Smithy is one game away from a similar fate after his card on Saturday.

December 10: Euro round-up: Real Madrid continued their recent good form with a 3-0 win over Celta Vigo with goals from Helguera, Luis Figo and Roberto Carlos. Real are two points behind leaders Valencia and Deportivo, but have a game in hand. Lazio bounced back with a 4-1 win at Vicenza - the impressive Nedved bagged a pair, backed up by Marcelo Salas and Hernan Crespo - but Inter went down to a 2-0 defeat at Fiorentina, so maybe Robbie Keane will end up getting a chance as they get increasingly desperate for a win to climb out of the bottom half of Serie A. Jan Koller picked up another goal as Anderlecht won 2-0 at Mechelen - they remain undefeated but still lag Club Brugge by 3 points at the top of the league.

December 10: The FA Cup draw pits us against Barnsley at home in the first weekend of the New Year. Last time we played them in the cup, some hugely dodgy refereeing on a freezing day at Oakwell got them a 1-1 draw before they went down 4-0 at Elland Road in the replay.

December 10: Apparently Rio has received a few race-hate messages from Leeds "fans" unhappy at his move to Elland Road, along with the expected abuse from a minority of West Ham fans. I find that a bit surprising - even the racist idiots who were dishing out abuse at Leicester and Saints always directed it at the opposition players - Olivier Dacourt and Lucas Radebe aren't on the receiving end of it because they play for Leeds and are viewed differently. So all we've got to do to end the abuse is to get every non-white player in the league to play for us. Simple...

December 10: It's Sunday so it's time for another round of "random transfer gossip". Luton have been watching a Leeds striker with a view to strengthening their squad: the smart money is that they're talking about Tony Hackworth rather than Darren Huckerby. Internazionale would like to pick up Harry Kewell and DOL next summer (who wouldn't?) and might not demur at paying a huge amount of compensation as they bid to once again triumph in Serie A and Europe. And Lucas Radebe isn't going anywhere - in fact we'll look to extend his existing 3 year plus contract to keep him at Elland Road beyond his 35th birthday.

December 09: Post-match reaction. DOL said: "I don't think we deserved to win." Too right, I'm afraid - to do that you've got to make their keeper work for his money, and that's something we singularly failed to do, despite the possession. The manager added: "Doing well in the Premiership is my priority to get into the Champions League, and it's not just our away form that is worrying." It would be churlish to grumble too much on the back of the Lazio win, but I couldn't agree more - the best Christmas present DOL could give to the fans is a nice long run of wins.

December 09: Hassan Kachloul will be further punished by his club - and the FA could be involved too - after he appeared to attempt to head butt Lee Bowyer after being dismissed. Glenn Hoddle wasn't impressed with his reaction, and will almost certainly fine him. DOL, in best Arsene Wenger fashion, didn't see much and will review the tape before deciding if any of the Leeds players need to be admonished. Ref Paul Durkin issued a total of 8 yellow cards, but there were no really bad challenges: Draper and Smith got a card apiece for a little bit of handbags, Dacourt and Oakley did actually commit fouls for their cards, but Eirik Bakke's challenge was no worse than an unpunished Saints one from 5 minutes before, Woody won the ball when he was carded and Kachloul's first card - which is what caused the red mist to descend - was for the heinous crime of infringing at a free kick. Let's hope the animosities can be forgotten next time round - this fixture has produced far too many cards in recent years.

December 09: Back to the old days in so many ways today. First, a quiet pint or three in an excellent Hopback Brewery pub. Then what could be our last visit to a ground that just doesn't cur the Premier League mustard - the new stadium at St Marys could be ready the next time we come down here. Then, watching a Leeds side dominate possession but fail to score, concede a goal after giving the ball away and drop three points against opposition we really should beat. And finally see a minor ruck break out with the stewards at the ground and listen to a train-coach full of foul-mouthed racist abuse from our "fans". The only thing missing when we got back to Waterloo was the dog section to accompany the 50-odd police who were waiting to pick out the ones who had been mainly responsible for the abuse - no idea who they pulled out in the end, but I really hope this sort of thing isn't going to make a permanent return to Leeds games.

December 08: Fingers crossed for an old hero tomorrow. Carl Shutt travels to Ashton Gate with his Kettering team-mates hoping for a victory that will take them into the 3rd round of the FA Cup. To add a bit more spice, Shutty used to play for Bristol City, but in Leeds he'll be best remembered for the goal that beat Stuttgart in a deserted Nou Camp in 1992.

December 08: Robbie Keane was left out of Inter's squad for the game against Hertha Berlin last night, but the Inter hierarchy still think he has a future there. He's definitely not bound for Charlton - who have a tie-up with the Italian club - and a loan move to another Serie A club looks like a good bet, although talk of him being offered to Leeds in exchange for first refusal on Harry Kewell's signature isn't the strangest piece of transfer gossip of the year. Meanwhile PR stamped on the Hucks-to-Celtic rumours before they'd taxied to the end of the runway. Well, not at the price that was suggested anyway...

December 08: Richard Jobson's career in the top division could be at an end with the news that Manchester City are prepared to release him on a free. He's been on loan at Watford (coinciding with a bit of a slump in their form) and is now available to anyone who can pay his wages.

December 08: Alan Smith was trying to keep his feet on the ground after this week's performance in Rome. "It was great to bounce back in the way we did. For me to get the only goal of the game was, naturally, special and very welcome coming after quite a spell without one." But he remained realistic about the need to improve in the league. "Having bounced back from that Leicester shock, we now have to make sure that when we play at Southampton we don't suffer another big crash." Too true - we need to be focused on 2nd or 3rd place in the league to make sure we're in the CL next year.

December 08: So what's a manager to do? The real test of DOL's managerial abilities starts on Saturday, as he's faced with an increasing range of players to mix and match for the starting line-ups. After Woody's superb performance against Lazio, he surely can't be dropped, so who will make way for Rio? Harry is fit again, so do we continue with him on the bench or get him starting the game? All will be revealed tomorrow... For the Saints, the player who for me has looked the pick of the crop in the last couple years - Marian Pahars - is a doubt, as is striker James Beattie and Bradford-born centreback Dean Richards: all three will have late tests to see if they can start. Saints' boss Glenn Hoddle was flattering in his assessment of his opponents (but maybe that's just a bit of reverse psychology for his team): "Leeds' display against Lazio was without doubt one of the greatest English performances abroad in the last 20 years."

December 07: DOL to Italy - NOT! With his success for Leeds to date, DOL has been linked with moves to Inter or Lazio. He admits he likes the country, people and food, but at present he has no plans to manage there: Leeds is where it begins and where it could end if everything works out.

December 07: Alan Smith is reportedly on for a massive pay hike and a contract extension. Now that he's re-established himself as a first choice player this season, Smithy will be offered a package of £13,000 a week - that's ten grand more than he currently gets - for a 4-5 year extension (with appropriate review points as his career develops).

December 07: Batts completed a 90-minute practice match at Thorp Arch against Huddersfield today. Harry Kewell also played, and Batts will now be looking forward to playing in next week's reserve game against Sheffield Wednesday.

December 06: Random transferisms... Fowler to come to Leeds. Keane to be a Leeds player by Christmas (give it a rest), Maybury to stay and fight for a place/wait for a Premiership team rather than going to Crewe. Jabba for Enfield. Leeds in for Israeli midfielder Yossi Benayoun. Helstad for PSG not Leeds. One of these is a blatant lie of the sort you should expect from us untrustworthy webniks. The rest have been made up by the "legitimate press" so are inherently better. The choice is yours...

December 06: Hyper-optimism department. Beat Anderlecht home and away while Lazio get done by Real at least once and we're in the quarter finals. Frightening innit....

December 06: Just been to the British Guild of Beer Writers Dinner, so necessarily brief notes on today's news. DOL has been granted a whole pile of share options, exercisable at the current price in 2003 that could net him around a million quid if he exercises them and if the club's share price has recovered a little. More and more clubs are looking at rewarding their players and managers this way as an added incentive to stay and succeed.

December 05: Both DOL and PR were over the moon after the game - the chairman more or less jumping on top of the manager when the final whistle went. DOL's smile was wider than we've seen since ... errr... the last time we played in Italy. "I'm delighted for [the team]...we rode our luck a little bit but overall we had the best chances." His public criticism of Woody at the weekend made a big difference - tonight Woodgate was "outstanding - but I want that week in, week out." Smithy also came in for special praise for his first goal in 12 games which made such a huge difference. Now to keep that performance level up for Saints on Saturday... And I swear I'll never shout "Cut those *@!*ing back-heels out Viduka" again.

December 05: Woody superbly answered DOL's criticism and Smithy's goal must do a lot to convince Erickson (or Taylor) that he's a good option for the national side. Magnificent result away from home against Salas, Crespo, Veron, Simeone - for those of us who were at Leicester on Saturday it's nowt short of miraculous. With Madrid winning convincingly 4-1, that leaves us second in the group going into the winter break.

December 05: Although they're playing it down, this is a big game for the young English players for Leeds. Jon Woodgate, Paul Robinson, Alan Smith and Lee Bowyer - as well as the slightly older Jason Wilcox - will have the opportunity to show off their qualities in front of the man who will be considering their merits for England in a few months time, and although Erickson will no doubt view miles of video before picking his first side, the Leeds players will have a big chance to make a lasting impression tonight. Alan Smith tried to talk the prospect down: "The important thing is to try and get a result against Lazio: anything else is secondary." Paul Robinson was equally clear on tonight's aims: "It's important for us to get something out of the game. I think if we come back with a point we will all be pleased." Let's hope we're all feeling pleased in 5 hours time. With Christmas coming up there will be less than a thousand Leeds fans out there tonight (my excuse: new system went live yesterday and I didn't get back from work until 0530 this morning), but let's keep our fingers crossed that they get a chance to make a lot of noise.

December 05: Leeds may - or may not - need to get their skates on if they want to pick up Thorstein Helstad from Brann. The Norwegian club confirmed that they'd had one bid so far for the youngster - but that it fell short of their expectations. It's understood that it was Sunderland making the bid, which would fit in with what their agents were saying earlier, and although Brann need the money they're obviously not desperate for it yet. Other Noggy news: John Arne Riise now wants to stay at Monaco. So we'll see him at Leeds/Bradford Airport tomorrow then.

December 05: Nigel Worthington has been appointed acting manager at Norwich City following the resignation of Bryan Hamilton. Norwich have suffered five defeats in a row, and have generally failed to live up to expectations, so Hamilton's departure is not exactly a surprise. Chairman Brian Cooper reckons that Worthington - who was assistant coach under Hamilton - could end up taking the job on a permanent basis: he has previous managerial experience at Blackpool, where he provided a home for several never-quite-made-its from Elland Road.

December 05: Fanning the flames and setting yourself up for a fall department: Olivier Dacourt wants to wipe the smirk off Sinisa Mihajlovic's face after the Lazio man withdrew his apology to Dacourt's friend, Patrick Vieira, for the racist abuse he dished out during Arsenal's encounter with Lazio in the first stage of the tournament. Mihajlovic was banned by UEFA as a result, and should really face a further ban for what amounts to a repetition of the abuse - but Olly should try to stay cool and make sure that it's the ball rather than the boots that do the talking.

December 05: So was Peter Taylor talking about more than just England when he met Lazio boss and soon-to-be England chief Sven Goran Erickson? He says that all they spoke about was England in general, and that he didn't discuss the tactics that got his side a 3-1 win over Leeds at the weekend. Not that there'd be much need: Erickson can use a video, but the formation and personnel will change for tonight's game, and if Woody plays it will be with a rocket up his backside from DOL, after he was largely singled out for the blame for Saturday's defeat (a trifle unfairly I think).

December 05: Patrick Vieira will be charged with misconduct after all for the incidents in the game at Elland Road. In the Norwegian press, Eirik Bakke said: "He totally lost it in that match. His kind of behaviour is just stupid." I still think it would be a bit hard on the Frenchman to give him a 3-match ban for what he did - it may have been a bit reckless but we see much worse go unpunished every week.

December 05: Looks like Robbo could end up playing in more games than Nige this year: our number one number one's groin tear (ouch!) is worse than first thought, and he could now be missing through to February. Harry Kewell won't start in Lazio according to DOL yesterday. So expect a full 90 minutes from him then... :-) Eirik Bakke was still hopeful of playing after coming through a training session, and for Lazio Juan Veron was also cleared to play but may not be risked for the full game.

December 04: Eirik Bakke will fly our with the squad to Rome today, but he reckons it would need a miracle for him to be fit for the game against Lazio. Miracles do happen - and we need as many players as possible fit for that game.

December 04: It looks like Patrick Vieira has been found guilty by the FA's video panel after the incidents with Eirik Bakke and Olivier Dacourt in last week's game. However this is just an advisory thing, and with Dermot Gallagher not reporting the incidents and Leeds apparently not keen to pursue things further, it looks as if he may not be punished.

December 04: More Euro-news from the weekend: Real won 3-2 at Osasuna, and Anderlecht beat current league leaders Bruges by 2-0: Anderlecht remain unbeaten but have drawn a couple more games so stay in second place.

December 03: Yet another goal for JFH today as Chelsea somehow managed to hang on to beat Man City 2-1.

December 03: Lucas Radebe was apparently racially abused at Leicester as the teams came out. Doesn't excuse his sending off, and neither does it excuse the chants from some of the Leeds fans throughout the game.

December 03: Very little news around today. Everyone keeping their heads down after a poor showing yesterday. Apart from the weekly Robbie Keane rumour. Hello rumour - nice to see you again - how are the kids....

December 02: After today's game, DOL said: "One centre-back was at fault today, although I'm not going to name names." Since he also said: "I thought Rio played well. I was delighted with him" and didn't have too stinging a go at Lucas for giving the ref an excuse to send him off, then presumably he wa talking about Woody. And obviously, no reflection on the manager switching to a formation that none of the team looked comfortable with when we'd tried it before. Woody did commit a couple of howlers, but it showed how little first team football Matthew Jones has played this season, and Matteo must be much less of a peripheral figure if we are going to stick with this formation (after a bit more practice).

December 02: Lazio had a slightly better warm up than we did for Tuesday's game, winning 2-0 against Reggina, but keeper Angelo Peruzzi picked up an injury that may keep him out of the Champions League game. DOL says "write us off at your peril" - but that's now 10 games away from home without a win...

December 02: DOL's new 3-man back line lasted precisely 37 minutes and conceded 3 goals at Leicester before Jon Woodgate was made the sacrificial goat of the day. Great news that Harry finally got his season underway, brilliant spirit in the way we dominated the second half, but - and I know I've said this before - what an abysmal referee! Lucas was booked for a fair challenge in the first half, then received his second yellow card 5 seconds after Smithy had been scythed from behind and watched the ref wave play on. Savage caught Lee Bowyer with a face-high elbow. No card. Lennon, Savage and Taggart kicked the ball away to stop Leeds getting on with the game - no cards. Savage took Harry's legs from behind as he made a run towards the area - no card. Step forward and receive your prize - Homer of the Week - Steve Bennett! That said, we let them score 3 goals that were just plain soft, and then only made their keeper stretch on a couple of occasions, so no credit to us there. And hello to all of those great Leeds fans who do our reputation such a lot of good by their amusing and entertaining chants - I'm glad their team lost - but I'm sorry my team had to lose as well to make it that way.

December 02: Rio Ferdinand revealed that he'd received hate mail (as well as some quite nice letters) and that there had been "incidents" outside his mother's house since news of his transfer was confirmed. Ferdinand is hopeful that there will be no long-term ill-feeling: "I just hope that I get a good reception when I go back with Leeds because I still have a lot of feeling for the club."

December 01: A couple of Rio's contract details have been leaked - no doubt in part to reassure the City and the fans. He's apparently waived his right to walk away if the transfer system gets abolished, and although he can talk to other clubs at the end of the 2003-2004 season, they'd have to promise to pay up £25 million to secure his services. Let's hope (a) it's enforceable and (b) he's happy to stick to the terms and they don't go overboard when we renegotiate his contract. He may be ambitious, but it's clear he's got the sort of blind optimism that is essential in all fans: "I still believe we can challenge for the title..."

December 01: Jason Lanns has moved to Rochdale on a free transfer a month after his 19th birthday. Lanns would have needed to go a long way to get himself into the first team squad ahead of players like Eirik Bakke and Matthew Jones, so the move is probably for the best for the Brum-born boy.

December 01: Stephen McPhail is now likely to be out for the rest of the season: he played 45 minutes on Tuesday with a view to joining Harry Kewell and David Batty on the comeback road, but suffered an adverse reaction. He's now had his op and we will be very lucky to see him before next August. Other injuries: Dominic Matteo could be anywhere between ready to play and a month away, Eirik Bakke is 50/50 for tomorrow, and Danny Hay starts light training next week after his hernia op.

December 01: Big Bob has left the building - for half what we paid for him. Bradford's payment of £500,000 seems a little bit on the cheap side, but he deserves his chance to play first team football. A final word from the big man: "I'd like to thank the Leeds fans who were always fantastic to me."

December 01: Paul Robinson has been named as Carling Player of the Month for November - quite right too! Superb performances against top teams with a constantly changing defence in front of him. Let's hope he hangs around when Nige returns - he could be the man to challenge all the Revie team on the all-time appearance charts if luck goes his way. Ipswich manager George Burley picked up the managers' award as recognition of the good run the "Tractor Boys" are in.

December 01: Robert Molenaar passed a medical at Valley Parade late last night and should be a Bradford player later today. The fee is reported to be £400,000 for the big Dutchman, and the transfer looks like it will be complete in time for him to turn out against Coventry on Saturday. Molenaar is Jim Jeffries' first signing as he tries to dig the club out of what could turn into a relegation mire. Big Bob hasn't played for nearly two years after going down under a dodgy challenge from Nicholas Anelka at Highbury. He said: "I am not a young man and I don't think sitting in the stands is the best way to get my career going again. It does hurt to say goodbye because so many people have been good to me. But at least I can look people straight in the eye and say I have done my best." Amen to that - and good luck for the future - he deserves it.

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