Jack Cork deal in limbo

Jack Cork celebrates his winning goal at Deepdale
Jack Cork celebrates his winning goal at Deepdale

ANY deal for Jack Cork looks certain to be put on hold until after the UEFA European Under-21 Championship finals.

Burnley are firmly in the battle to land the Chelsea midfielder, who has spent the last season and a half on loan at Turf Moor.

However, they face stern opposition for his signature, with Southampton believed to have offered him upwards of £15,000-a-week to move to the St Mary’s Stadium.

Blackpool, Nottingham Forest and Leeds are also thought to be interested in the 20-year-old, who was an unused substitute as England kicked off their Group B programme in Herning on Sunday evening with a 1-1 draw with Spain.

But the Young Lions coach Stuart Pearce doesn’t want the distraction of any more transfer dealings disrupting his plans, after Phil Jones and Jordan Henderson agreed moves to Manchester United and Liverpool respectively on the eve of the tournament.

Jones was late linking up with the squad after undertaking medical tests at United’s training ground before signing a five-year contract on Wednesday –although the deal remains a protracted one as Blackburn dig their heels in over the £16.5m clause in his contract.

Henderson, meanwhile, also agreed a move to Anfield from Sunderland on Wednesday for a reported £19m, after agreeing personal terms and undergoing a medical on Merseyside.

Pearce hopes those are the last two deals to be done as England prepare for their next two group games, against Ukraine on Wednesday in Herning, and the Czech Republic in Viborg on Sunday.

Pearce said: “That’s finished now, we’re here as England players and those players will be fully focused on that.

“I’m not aware at this stage that there is anyone else on the verge of moving clubs.

“It wasn’t a hindrance because I know what sort of players I’m dealing with, they’re fantastically focused and an absolute pleasure to work with.

“If I was in their position, I’d want a deal tied up before I went to a major Championships.”

Cork is believed to prefer a move to Burnley, rather than a return to Southampton, where he has also spent time on loan, playing 25 games in 2008-09 as the Saints were relegated to League 1 – their fate sealed by a failure to beat Burnley in the penultimate game at St Mary’s.

However, Nigel Adkins has steered the Saints back to the Championship, and, following administration, they are now in more robust health financially.

Interestingly, Championship clubs voted in principle for a new financial fair play system at the Football League’s AGM on Thursday, where teams can only spend what they earn – to run parallel with UEFA’s ruling on sides in European competition from 2014.

League chairman Greg Clarke said: “The Championship clubs voted to look at financial fair play and, in principle, decided that was the road they wanted to go down.

“A lot of things have come together to make this happen, including of course the level of debt in the game – £700m in the Football League, most of that in the Championship – and big losses being racked up by the clubs.”