Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Keane Considers Fall-Back Options for Back-Four Slot

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Keane Considers Fall-Back Options for Back-Four Slot

Article excerpt

Byline: By Stuart Rayner

SAMUEL Kuffour and Ian Harte are training with Sunderland with a view to bolstering the Black Cats' defensive options before the transfer window closes at midnight on Friday.

Both offer fall-back options if Roy Keane is unable to land his top targets next week. The fact that the Wearsiders' team boss has gone public with the news the pair have been at the Academy of Light this week could be a ploy to force through the signing of Stoke City defender Danny Higginbotham.

Higginbotham wants to leave the Britannia Stadium and the Black Cats have had two bids for the Mancunian rejected, but if Stoke discover Kuffour and Harte - able to fill the two positions Higginbotham plays in - are waiting in the wings, it might give the Sunderland the upper hand in the game of brinkmanship which is developing.

Harte made his name as an attacking left-back at Leeds United, whereas Kuffour is a central defender. Keane knows both, having played with Harte for the Republic of Ireland and against Kuffour in various Manchester United-Bayern Munich Champions League clashes.

"Ian is training with us and the quality he has is for everyone to see. We hope to have some news in the next 48 hours," revealed Keane.

"We are having a look at them and it's good for them to look at what we are doing here, but there's no chance of them signing before the weekend." Kuffour, 33 next month, was transfer-listed by Serie A side AS Roma at the end of last season. He has not played for the Giallaro ssi since October 2005. Last term he was loaned to Livorno but he underwhelmed president Aldo Spinelli. "Sami Kuffour was a terrible signing," he was quoted as saying. "He is still a good player, but motivation is crucial and he really had none with us."

The Ghanaian carved out an impressive reputation in European football since being brought to the continent by Torino as a 13-year-old but injuries have caught up with him in recent years. …

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