BOBBY Mimms has been released by Blackburn Rovers at his own request, with 12 months still to go on his contract.

The 32-year-old keeper is desperate to play first team football again.

And, with England man Tim Flowers the undisputed number one at Ewood, as well as Shay Given developing fast, he felt it would be better for him to move on.

Rovers, blessed with goalkeeping talent, agreed to help the keeper's career by giving him an early release in recognition of his services to the club.

Mimms said today: "When Tim first came I was prepared to fight it out for the first team spot.

"But, even when he wasn't playing particularly well at one stage, I couldn't get into the team.

"It's not a contest any more. I haven't made a snap decision, but it's a situation I couldn't put up with any longer. I'm not blaming anyone, it's just a fact of life.

"I think by moving on, it will benefit everybody, including Shay. I am at the stage of my career where I need the chance to be playing first team football. "But I have had some brilliant times at Blackburn. In a sense, I have grown with the club."

There are bound to be a number of clubs interested in Mimms, an experienced keeper who joined Rovers for £250,000 in December 1990. He helped the club stave off relegation from the old Second Division and has played in more than 130 League games for Rovers in two spells - he was initially at Ewood on loan in 1987.

Preston North End and Bolton Wanderers are thought to have been watching his situation.

Reports in Sunday newspapers that Alan Shearer is about to become Manchester United's latest multi-million pound transfer target were dismissed from all quarters - including Old Trafford.

Ewood chairman Robert Coar said: "It is intensely annoying to read week after week reports which have no foundation.

"Even Alex Ferguson has said today that there is nothing in it.

"It seems the silly season has started early and I can only suggest to our fans that they be more selective about what they read.

"One Sunday paper even suggested United had made an illegal approach.

"It's absolute nonsense."

Yesterday's Sunday Mirror actually carried an apology for a previous story alleging that young keeper Shay Given had been involved in a bust-up with manager Ray Harford.

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