WANTAWAY Russ Howarth today revealed his reasons for refusing to play in York City's pre-season friendly with Sunderland.

Speaking to the Evening Press ahead of this afternoon's game, the young goalkeeper admitted he feared seeing his dream move to First Division Wolves being scuppered by injury.

"Basically, I'm in the middle of this transfer to Wolves. They want me and the clubs are trying to sort out the money side of things," he explained.

"I just feel that if I play in the game and I was to get injured then Wolves could pull out.

"I have nothing against the club, who have been great to me with regards to the Wolves situation.

"And I would love to play in the game, especially as it is Paul Stancliffe's benefit match

"I have a tremendous amount of respect for Stan, both as a person and as a coach.

"But like I say, I just feel if I played and got injured it could cost me my move. There is nothing malicious about it."

Howarth said he appreciated his refusal to play was made worse by the injury suffered by Alan Fettis.

Manager Terry Dolan was relying on Howarth to fill the void against Sunderland but instead was forced to play inexperienced John Collinson.

"I am really grateful for everything the club has done for me and I understand the situation the club is in, especially with regards Fetts," said the 20-year-old.

"But this is a dream move for me and I don't want to see it scuppered by injury."

Howarth's refusal to play marks a massive gamble for the young 'keeper with the two clubs believed to be massively wide apart in their valuation of the England Under-20 international.

Wolves' boss Dave Jones has made clear his desire to sign the player but chief executive Jez Moxey has called on City to "radically" rethink their valuation or indicated the deal could be shelved.

Howarth said he remained hopeful the two clubs would be able to reach a compromise.

"Hopefully, Wolves are in it for the duration and they won't pull out," said the shot-stopper.

"But the decision not to play is nothing to do with Wolves. It is my decision alone."

It is a decision that has left Dolan seething.

The City manager is powerless to stop Howarth from continuing to train with Wolves but he has pledged to bar the young goalkeeper from playing another trial match for the First Division outfit until the dispute has been resolved.

Updated: 11:05 Saturday, July 27, 2002