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Friday, January 6, 2006
Coleman loses out in Diop tug of war

Fulham manager Chris Coleman has lost his battle to delay Papa Bouba Diop's departure for the African Nations Cup.

Coleman hoped to keep Diop for Sunday's FA Cup third round tie against Leyton Orient and next Saturday's Barclays Premiership clash with Newcastle.

But football authorities in Senegal have refused his request and Diop, who has been sidelined for the last month with an ankle injury, has already left for the tournament in Egypt.

'We were hoping to hang on to Bouba but we've talked to the Senegalese FA and there was nothing happening there, so unfortunately he's gone away,' said Coleman.

'Now we have to make sure that he's fit when he comes back and is ready to start for us. It's a big loss to us.'

Phillippe Christanval has been used as the holding midfielder for most of the last month in Diop's injured but the Frenchman's ankle injury prevents him from starting against Orient tomorrow.

Instead, new signing Simon Elliott will be named in the starting line-up with the New Zealand international completing his switch from Columbus Crew today.

The 31-year-old, who has signed a two-and-a-half-year contract and arrives on a free transfer, has amassed more than 50 caps for his country and joins from the same club which provided Carlos Bocanegra and Brian McBride.

'Simon can play a holding role. He can use both feet and he uses the ball very well. He's intelligent and sits in front of the back four in the centre of midfield. He's a tidy player,' said Coleman.

Efforts to sign Benfica centre-back Jose Fonte in a six-month loan deal have failed with the Portuguese club refusing the 22-year-old permission to train with Fulham

'Jose is a player we wanted to take a look at for a few days but we've not been able to do that, so there's nothing happening there,' said Coleman.

'He's not allowed to train with us for different reasons so he'll be going back to Benfica.'

Coleman hopes to strengthen his squad further and has money to spend in the transfer window but was reluctant to comment on reported moves for Celtic midfielder Stilian Petrov and Tottenham's former Craven Cottage favourite Sean Davis.

'Stilian is a good player and I expect a lot of managers would be interested in him, but I won't comment on players at other clubs,' he said.

'Again Sean is a good player. I don't know what Tottenham want to do with him. We haven't made any inquiries.

'We don't know if he's available. One or two noises have been made but there has been no contact.'

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