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Hughton swoops to land Rooney

CHRIS HUGHTON has made Irish striker Adam Rooney his first signing as Birmingham City manager.

The 23-year-old Dubliner scored 21 goals in 42 Scottish Premier League games for Inverness Caledonian Thistle last season. The former U-21 international, whose contract with Inverness exp[ired at the end of last season, has penned a two-year deal at St Andrew's.

Ireland soar to No 31 in world rankings

IRELAND's end-of-season run of four victories has seen them rise three places to 31st in the FIFA World Rankings.

Giovanni Trapattoni's men are now above Paraguay, World Cup quarter-finalists Ghana and Egypt and just below Israel and Switzerland on the list which was released yesterday.

The Italian has seen his side recover their ranking from a low of 43rd in April 2010 -- and wins over Northern Ireland, Scotland, Macedonia and Italy have seen them creep closer to Il Capo's all-time high in charge of Ireland -- 26th -- achieved in March 2009.

End of the road for Lee at Anfield

sammy lee, the Liverpool assistant manager, whose influence at the club diminished when Steve Clarke was brought in as Kenny Dalglish's first-team coach, has left Anfield just over three years after returning.

Clarke, whose new three-year deal signed in May warded off the prospect of Chelsea regaining his services, is now expected to take on the role of assistant manager. Lee's exit had been rumoured for some time, though the timing of it, five days before the squad returns for pre-season, is a surprise.

Rumours that Lee might be about to join up again with West Ham's Sam Allardyce appear to be incorrect.

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Chelsea ready to swoop for Coentrao

andre Villas-Boas is hoping to make Benfica's Fabio Coentrao his first signing for Chelsea, but is facing competition from Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid.

Coentrao, who can play as a left or right full-back or a left winger, has a release clause at Benfica of £27m and, while Madrid are his preferred destination, Chelsea are understood to have indicated they would offer superior personal terms.

Chelsea's pursuit of Coentrao is somewhat surprising given Ashley Cole's reputation as one of the world's best left-backs but, at 23, the Portugal international would be a long-term signing and would also offer options in midfield.

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