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Ex-Uganda skipper Andrew Mwesigwa announces retirement

By ESPN Staff

Eriksson dismisses reports of Inter interest in Elano

Manchester City boss Sven-Goran Eriksson has dismissed reports of Inter Milan's interest in star man Elano.

The Brazilian midfielder has been among the best signings in the Premier League this season.

Signed by Eriksson for £8million from Shakhtar Donetsk last summer, Elano has been a huge factor in City's rise to fourth spot in the table.

His superb performances have caught the eye across Europe and it was little surprise rumours have emerged of a potential 'name-your-price' offer from Inter, who are looking to bolster their squad for a twin assault on the Serie A title and Champions League.

However, Eriksson feels he is perfectly placed to judge Inter's interest.

The Swede retains a close personal relationship with Inter's coach Roberto Mancini, who he worked with for nine years.

And Eriksson is confident if Mancini wanted his player, he would have mentioned it.

'If Inter wanted one of our players, I am sure Roberto Mancini would have telephoned me straightaway,' he said.

'I know him and we speak regularly with each other. He would be the first one to tell me if Inter wanted Elano. So I don't think they do.'

Eriksson reported there had been no inquiries for any of his star men, who, crucially, are not cup-tied for Europe.

This number includes young England defender Micah Richards, who found himself plastered on the front pages of the newspapers in somewhat unfortunate circumstances at the weekend.

As no stranger to headlines himself from his time in charge of England, Eriksson is well placed to offer Richards some timely advice about avoiding such situations in future.

But, rather like Sir Alex Ferguson and the Manchester United players' party, it is not a subject for public consumption.

'I have spoken to Micah but that is all the comment I have to make about it,' said Eriksson.

With his side not in action until Thursday, when they tackle out-of-form Blackburn at Eastlands, Eriksson has opted to give the City players a rare Christmas Day off.

'Six points' from the games against Blackburn and Liverpool on December 30 was Eriksson's answer when questioned over his preferred present, although the results of the Thailand elections suggest it will be a very Festive Yuletide for City and their long-suffering fans.

Almost since the day he took control at Eastlands, Thaksin Shinawatra has been dogged by a succession of political scandals.

Dr Thaksin's human rights record has been questioned by Amnesty International, while he has also had over £1billion in assets frozen by the military junta which overthrew him.

While there will be no immediate change in Dr Thaksin's situation, the fact staunch allies within the People Power Party have gained enough seats to take a major position within a coalition government suggest it should not be long before the sanctions against the former Prime Minister start to ease.

Given the enthusiasm with which Dr Thaksin has embraced the City cause, further funds are likely to become available to Eriksson, although these will probably not been seen until next summer.

However, Eriksson is already assured of more cash to strengthen his squad in addition to the impending arrival of Mexico forward Nery Castillo on loan from Shakhtar Donetsk.

'Hopefully, one or two more will arrive,' said Eriksson, who confirmed England Under-21 midfielder Michael Johnson is almost certain to miss the Blackburn encounter with an abdominal strain.

Eriksson confirmed Kasper Schmeichel will return from a loan spell at Cardiff on January 2, while the future of Ched Evans, who Norwich want to extend a loan until the end of the season, will be discussed at a later date.

Eriksson has also renewed his call for video technology to be introduced for contentious goal-line decisions and penalty calls.

Sunderland manager Roy Keane was livid Stephen Hunt's injury-time winner for Reading was allowed to stand at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday when it appeared the ball had not crossed the line before keeper Craig Gordon palmed it out.

Manchester City were involved in a similar controversy at Villa Park, when Elano hacked Gabriel Agbonlahor's shot off the line.

Referee Lee Mason appeared to get his verdict right when he waved play on rather than awarding the goal, a view Eriksson shared.

However, the City manager feels it is time the officials were given some assistance as they attempt to cope with the ever-increasing speed of the game.

'We are going to have a debate about technology every time something happens,' he said.

'No-one can really say for certain whether the one Elano stopped on Saturday was in or not.

'The referee does not have a chance, you cannot tell from the bench and while the linesman might be able to if he was in line, he never would be if the shot was outside the box.

'It is a very difficult situation but as long as you don't have technology there will be errors because the pitch is too big and the football is too fast.'

Although the use of goal-line technology has the broad support of the Premier League, FIFA, who have trialled various systems, are undecided whether to introduce it for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Eriksson accepts the world governing body must take the lead in such matters but he is sure referees would embrace the extra assistance.

'I suppose it will come sooner or later but today, as we approach 2008, there should be a way of deciding whether the ball went over the line or not,' he said.

'Football is not like many games, where the result can be 20-15.

'Very often, there are few goals in a match, so one bad decision can be very costly.

'I have always said the referee should be able to ask for a replay. It should be his decision whether to do so or not but I am sure it would be good for football if he could.'