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Christopher BirchallIf the overseas press was to be believed, it was a matter of when, not if the San Jose Earthquakes would acquire Trinidad & Tobago international Chris Birchall.
But on Tuesday, San Jose General Manager John Doyle denied the reports linking the midfielder to the Quakes, stating “I don’t see [Birchall] coming to San Jose.”

Doyle did confirm that on a recent trip to England, Birchall was one of the players San Jose was interested in, but his lack of first team action while on loan at Carlisle United (no relation) meant that Doyle and head coach Frank Yallop were never able to see him in a competitive fixture.

“For us, it went cold,” said Doyle about the possibility of bringing Birchall to MLS.

Doyle had decidedly better news concerning midfielder Francisco Lima. The Brazilian was thought to be dissatisfied with his contract that paid him a base salary last year of $195,000, and speculation had Lima heading back to Russia, where he has spent time with both Dinamo Moscow and Lokomotiv Moscow. But Doyle indicated that he expects the 37-year-old to be playing for San Jose in 2009.

“By all accounts, Lima is coming back,” said Doyle. “Now, he’s not going to be here forever, so we’re still looking for a defensive midfielder. But as of today, he’s coming back.”

Doyle was less optimistic about the possible return of out-of-contract forward Scott Sealy. The T&T international is apparently exploring opportunities in Turkey and Israel, but the Quakes’ GM is still holding out hope that something can be worked out.

“We’ve saved some cap space for Sealy if he does decide to come back,” Doyle said.