Early days to be worrying about signings

WITH the Championship campaign just 12 days away, DEREK DAVIS takes a look at the progress Roy Keane is making in terms of signings and preparation.

Derek Davis

WITH the Championship campaign just 12 days away, EADT chief football writer DEREK DAVIS takes a look at the progress Roy Keane is making in terms of signings and preparation.

SO no Paul Scholes and no Gary Neville then.

Despite the word on the street, in the pubs, offices and message boards, Roy Keane has not dipped back into his old club and landed two players who may be coming towards the end of their Manchester United days but are probably still good enough for the England squad.

Can you believe it?

Of course there was never really any basis for those rumours other than two and two making five and wishful thinking on behalf of Town fans who expect only the best for their club.

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Keane couldn't even land Ronaldo who had the nerve to go to Real Madrid. He did get Lee Martin for �1.5m - a player much in demand at Championship level and even by a couple of Premier League sides but it would appear some Town fans don't consider him enough of a coup.

The feedback from many supporters so far this summer seems to be that they are under-whelmed by Keane's signings and eagerly anticipate the arrival of a big money buy or at least a really high-profile name.

Maybe that will still happen - after all there are still five weeks of the transfer window still to go.

There is a whisper that former Senegalese striker Henri Camara is in talks with Town, although the club are not saying anything about that so far.

He is a decent enough name and in the past commanded a fee of around �5m but at 32-years of age may not have the turn of pace he once had at Wolves, Stoke City, Wigan and West Ham but he is experienced and with restored confidence could do a job leading the line in the Championship.

Not so well known but also it appears on Town's radar is 20-year-old midfielder Gary Deegan who is highly thought of in League of Ireland circles and recently played Champions' League football for Bohemians.

No offer had been made as of last night but Irish sources are confident one will be forthcoming for around �120,000.

With Colin Healy recently acquired from Cork City for around �60,000 and a squad overflowing with midfielders questions will be asked about Keane's need for another.

It could be that Deegan is seen, like Shane O'Connor, a bright prospect who hails from Cork, was at Liverpool's academy and who likes attacking from midfield, as one for the future along with defender Troy Brown.

Damien Delaney, yes another Corkman but that has nothing to do with anything, is one for right here right now and it has been a bit mystifying to hear him getting stick already.

It is pre-season for goodness sake and he will get sharper and fitter and more used to the way Town want to play.

What he has shown is an edge, a controlled nastiness if you like and a presence at the back that Town clearly need. He is also big enough and more than capable of shuffling across to partner Gareth McAuley at centre half when Ben Thatcher fully recovers.

It would not surprise me if, like McAuley last year, he gets stronger as the season goes on and ends up winning over the doubters.

The pre-season games have not really told us watching from the outside that much at all, but Keane and his coaching staff will have learned loads about the players and what has worked, or not, from the different things they have tried.

We should not look too much into the results, four wins two defeats, except to take heart that even when being sluggish in the first half knowing more often than not they can finish teams off on the second half.

Of course expectations for next season are high and Keane has more than most to live up to but it is very early days yet in terms of pre-season and even seeing how the upcoming campaign will go.

The initial optimism may have waned a wee bit but looking longer term the belief should still be strong.

While it is important to do their best every day the team will not want to peak to soon and it is better to start performing real thing start at Coventry, on Sunday, August 9, than in the rehearsals and Keane has the resources and nous to bring in more reinforcements when required but we all need to be realistic about who those players will be.

(N) WHAT do you think? Do you agree or disagree with Derek Davis - send your thoughts to sport@eadt.co.uk or join in Thursday's webchat www.eadt.co.uk