Keane's cut-price Cats

ROY Keane will be reunited with his former Sunderland players Daryl Murphy and Dean Whitehead early next week - if he can persuade the duo to take a pay cut and step down a division.

Stuart Watson

ROY Keane will be reunited with his former Sunderland players Daryl Murphy and Dean Whitehead early next week - if he can persuade the duo to take a pay cut and step down a division.

The two clubs agreed a fee for the duo early this week, understood to be in the region of �5m, and ever since then Blues chief executive Simon Clegg and Keane have been thrashing out personal terms with the players.

Central midfielder Whitehead, 27, is reportedly on �25,000-a-week at the Stadium of Light and it is almost certain that Ipswich would go nowhere near matching that figure.


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Republic of Ireland international Murphy, 26, is earning less than that but is still on a significant sum in the Premier League. He too would have to compromise on his earnings should he wish to relaunch his stalling career.

That shouldn't provide too much of a stumbling block as it is looking increasingly likely that both Murphy and Whitehead will be surplus to requirements under new Black Cats manager Steve Bruce next season.

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Bruce appears to have been handed a hefty transfer budget and has made it his top priority to sign a new striker. A bid for Manchester United's Fraizer Campbell has already been accepted, with Peter Crouch and Darren Bent also heavily linked. Bruce also had a bid for Wigan midfielder Lee Cattermole rejected by his former club yesterday which would indicate that Whitehead's days are also numbered.

Whitehead is regarded by Keane as an important player both on and off the field due to his leadership qualities and strong personality. The midfielder gave up the captain's armband at Sunderland to concentrate on his football in 2005, but was given back the role by Keane as Sunderland stormed to the Championship title in 2006/7.

If the Whitehead deal does go through, his first club Oxford would receive 25% of the deal under the terms of his free transfer to Sunderland. That could mean up to a quarter of a million lifeline for the financially struggling Blue Square Premier club.

- Ipswich are unlikely to receive a �1m bid from Plymouth for winger Danny Haynes.

The Daily Star and Sky Sports News reported yesterday that Pilgrims' boss Paul Sturrock is poised to bid double the club's current transfer record of �500,000 for the speedy winger.

The arrival of left winger Lee Martin from Manchester United at Portman Road could mean Keane - who started Haynes on the left wing in the absence of Martin in the club's first pre-season friendly in Ireland on Tuesday night - might let Haynes go for the right price.

However, it is understood that Sturrock - who is keen to beef up his attack following the loss of Emile Mpenza - does not have the sort of budget at his disposal to lure Haynes to Home Park.

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