Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Murphy Looking to Fill Striking Gap

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Murphy Looking to Fill Striking Gap

Article excerpt

Byline: MARK DOUGLAS

AS Roy Keane comes to terms with the possibility of starting the season without further substantial squad strengthening, Daryl Murphy aims to make the most of his chance to prove himself at Premier League level, writes MARK DOUGLAS.

After calling time on the pursuit of a number of targets this week, the Sunderland manager is confronting a dwindling list of possible options.

Adding an extra striker of proven Premier League quality remains a priority for Keane, but with a move for Louis Saha mothballed amid a raft of concerns over his fitness and wage demands and the Sunderland manager currently unwilling to match Reading's valuation of Kevin Doyle, progress appears slow.

Benni McCarthy has also been mentioned, although Blackburn and manager Paul Ince has made it clear to Galatasaray that the South African is not for sale.

The lack of progress looks set to lead Keane to look inwards for a possible solution, with Murphy the man in prime position to take advantage of his reprieve.

Reflecting Sunderland's struggles up front, Murphy was restricted to four goals last season, although one of them was the goal-of-the-season effort against Wigan in February.

But, while accepting that further improvement is required on his part, Murphy believes the improvements made to Sunderland's supply line will give whoever plays up front a chance to make a serious impact.

It is a sign of the faith that Keane has in his target man that he has moved to tie him up for another year this summer, extending his deal until 2012. With his long-term future apparently secure, Murphy is focusing on delivering instant dividends to a manager who has displayed admirable loyalty to him. "It gives me a fantastic opportunity," he said.

"Obviously we're a bit a short on strikers, even though we had the good news on Kenwyne's injury, so that always looked like an area where we might bring someone in. …

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