Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Cats Boss Sets Sights on Devils Youngster

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Cats Boss Sets Sights on Devils Youngster

Article excerpt

Byline: By Stuart Rayner

THREE players were added to Sunderland's injury-hit squad yesterday - but Roy Keane is still looking to make a 13th summer signing in controversial Manchester United midfielder Darron Gibson.

Chairman Niall Quinn handed manager Keane three presents to mark his first anniversary as Black Cats manager in the shape of left-back Ian Harte, centre-half Danny Higginbotham and striker Kenwyne Jones.

But with captain Dean Whitehead's season effectively ended by cruciate ligament damage, Keane has also targeted 19-year-old midfielder Gibson on a season-long loan.

As the signings of Harte and Higginbotham demonstrate, Keane prefers footballers he is familiar with and being a Republic of Ireland international with one of his former clubs, Gibson fits the bill. Sunderland's squad now contains 12 who have played alongside Keane and a further three Republic of Ireland internationals.

Keane has already tried and failed to bring two United youngsters to the Stadium of Light this summer. Jonny Evans and Danny Simpson impressed on loan last season but Sir Alex Ferguson felt they would be needed in his first-team squad.

However, the Scot is well blessed with midfielders and, although he sees Gibson as a potential star, he believes him to be a year away from pushing for a first-team place. With Owen Hargreaves, Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes, Darren Fletcher and John O'Shea available, Ferguson is thought to be receptive to a 12-month loan. Gibson spent 2006-07 at the Red Devils' feeder club, Royal Antwerp, where Evans and Simpson played for the first half of the season.

He is involved in a tug-of-war for his services at international level. Born in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, which he represented up to Under-16 level, Gibson opted to play for the Republic senior side and won his first full cap in the 4-0 friendly win in Denmark eight days ago, having been an unused squad player in three Euro 2008 qualifiers. The IFA have appealed to Fifa as Gibson is one of a number of Ulstermen to invoke the Good Friday Agreement to switch allegiance.

Gibson is renowned as the kind of physical and athletic player Keane said his squad was short of after Tuesday's 3-0 League Cup defeat by Luton Town. …

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