Middlesbrough look to be heading for a compensation battle with Aston Villa over coach Paul Barron.

The goalkeeping specialist yesterday quit Villa Park to pave the way for his link-up with new Boro boss Steve McClaren.

Steve Harrison, right-hand man to Villa manager John Gregory, is also bound for the Riverside Stadium along with Derby County's first-team coach Steve Round.

But Barron's switch is being complicated by Villa's claim for a settlement on his contract.

Villa refused Boro permission to speak to the former Crystal Palace, West Brom and QPR keeper, who was on a six-month rolling agreement.

And Midlands sources last night indicated that Villa could take Boro to an independent football tribunal and seek as much as £200,000 for the loss of Barron, even though it is understood his contract was only worth around £40,000.

Londoner Barron has gone on holiday to the United States and his move to Boro is not expected to be confirmed until his return.

Meanwhile, former Boro boss Bryan Robson has revealed he has already had offers to resume his managerial career.

Robson, who made way for the apppointment of Manchester United No 2 McClaren after seven years in the Boro hot-seat, said: "I've had quite a bit of interest, both from the Continent and from lower-league clubs.

"But there's nothing yet that I really fancy. This is the first summer in 30 years that I have been able to look forward to taking a holiday with my family without having to think about football.

"But you never know what is around the corner. If the right offer comes along, I'll be prepared to break off from the holiday for talks."

* French striker Lilian Laslandes was last night on the brink of completing a dream move to Sunderland that promises to revive his career.

Laslandes could be unveiled today as Sunderland's third signing of the summer after reaching agreement on a £2.8m move from Bordeaux.

Sunderland boss Peter Reid confirmed that a deal was imminent following further talks with the 29-year-old centre forward.

He said: "Lilian is a quality forward who will add something extra to our squad - if the deal goes through."

Laslandes was on Wearside yesterday for a medical and is understood to have agreed at least a two-year contract.

The French international, who is set to challenge Niall Quinn for the target-man role at the club, only scored four goals last season because of injury and loss of form.

But he is seen as a 15-goal-a-season man and Reid clearly believes he can bring out the best in the powerful forward after tracking him for several years.

Meanwhile, Julio Arca was surprisingly left out again for Argentina's World Youth championship clash with Egypt last night.

Arca missed the opening 2-0 victory over Finland but was expected to return for the game that should seal Argentina's place in the last 16.

His new Sunderland clubmate Nicholas Medina played from the start.

* Celtic last night confirmed they will be heading for the Stadium of Light for a pre-season friendly on Tuesday, July 24 (7.45pm)

* Hartlepool have requested their opening fixture is away from home to give the new Victoria Park pitch more time to bed in.

Fixtures for the new season are relased this morning.

The pitch has been dug up, a new drainage system installed, and a new playing surface is being laid this week.

The work has been carried out by Sheffield-based Premier Pitches, who have recently completed work at Preston and Sheffield Wednesday.

* Rangers director-secretary Campbell Ogilvie will sit down with some of Europe's premier clubs this week to discuss the revamping of the UEFA Cup.

Read more about the Boro here.