Egyptian ace in blades link

SHEFFIELD United's Egyptian contingent could be set to increase according to one of the region's leading football experts.

Islam Issa, of Egyptian, told The Star that Al-Ahly's Mohamed Shawky is understood to be the latest EPL player attracting interest from Bramall Lane following Ahmed Fathi's arrival during the transfer window.

The 25-year-old, who played every single minute of The Pharohs' African Cup of Nations triumph in 2006, has previously been linked with some of England's leading clubs.

"He is a tall defensive midfielder who captained Egypt to the bronze medal in the Under-20 World Cup 2001," Issa said.

"Manchester United are thought to have been interested in him a few years ago. He's had 39 caps and is Egypt's first choice in that position."

United, who entertain Liverpool in the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup tomorrow night, are clearly determined to exploit the connections they established in Egypt during their pursuit of Fathi.

Mick Jones, one of the most trusted members of Neil Warnock's coaching staff, travelled to Cairo to watch Hassan Shehata's side beat Sweden last week.

Fathi and Amr Zaki, another player being monitored by the Premiership club, scored during the 2-0 victory while Shawki also featured.

Fathi made his United debut as a second-half substitute against Tottenham Hotspur last Saturday and Warnock has admitted that Jones' journey to north Africa was also designed to identify possible targets.

"It was a good opportunity to watch Ahmed and also have a look at a few others as well."

Fathi, along with new 2 million striker Luton Shelton, played in United reserves' 2-1 win over Everton at Saltergate last night.

Fathi, on the right of midfied, played the whole game whilst Shelton partnered Christian Nade up front and figured for 45 minutes. Claude Davis and Chris Morgan were the centre defence pairing.

The goals came in the second half, young sub Dean Oliver giving United the lead and arfter Victor Anichebe levelled with 12 minutes to go, Leigh Bromby popped up with a fine volley from a corner for a late winner.

UNITED: Gerrard, Bromby, Sommeil, Fathi, Morgan, Davis, Li Tie (Gyaki 60), Law, Nade (Binnion 89), Shelton (Oliver ht), Donnelly. Unused: Roma, Annerson.