Premier League striker is top target

ROY Keane is stepping up his search for new players, following Saturday's depressing 2-0 defeat at Preston, and Sunderland frontman Daryl Murphy is his top target.

Carl Marston

ROY Keane is stepping up his search for new players, following Saturday's depressing 2-0 defeat at Preston, and Sunderland frontman Daryl Murphy is his top target.

In fact, Murphy looks poised to sign on loan for Ipswich Town today, for the rest of the season.

Irishman Murphy played under Town boss Keane at the Stadium of Light following his �100,000 move from Waterford in the summer of 2005.

Keane is desperate to recruit a new striker in an effort to solve his side's goalscoring problems, and Murphy is believed to be his No. 1 choice.

The only moves in the transfer market over the weekend, ahead of today's transfer deadline, and before Town's reported interest in Murphy, featured players leaving rather than arriving at Portman Road.

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Defender Alex Bruce has signed on loan to Championship rivals Leicester City for the rest of the season, while striker Stern John has returned to Crystal Palace after his loan spell with Town.

Meanwhile, Keane implied that striker Michael Chopra's wages would be a stumbling-block, in the unlikely event of Town being able to persuade the ex-Newcastle and Sunderland striker to leave cash-strapped Cardiff.

And Bluebirds chairman Peter Ridsdale revealed last night that Town's boss had not approached him about Chopra, although the Irishman had enquired about another player.

Keane explained: “Chops (Chopra) is a very, very good striker. Whether our club can afford him or his wages remains to be seen. I think it's unfair for me, even though I already just have, to speak about a player under contract at another club.

“There are plenty of strikers out there, but you're cutting it fine now to cut a deal with any striker, though obviously we know we've got the option of a loan deal.”

Cardiff chairman Ridsdale confirmed last night: “There has been no contact with Ipswich over Michael Chopra. But Roy Keane did speak to me on Friday about another player.”

It seems likely that Keane asked about either striker Warren Feeney, or left-sided specialist Tony Capaldi, although Cardiff only have a small squad, and so would be reluctant to consider allowing players to leave on loan.

Defender Bruce was at the Walkers Stadium to watch Leicester's goalless draw against Newcastle on Saturday, having signed on loan for the Foxes until the end of the season. The ex-Town skipper could possibly make the move permanent this summer.

Front-runner John completed his second month on loan with Town on Saturday, appearing as a late substitute in the defeat at Preston.

Keane did consider extending John's loan for the rest of the campaign, but has decided not to retain the services of the 33-year-old Trinidad & Tobago international.

Town are now sitting just one place above the relegation zone, and Keane insisted: “We need to start fighting and scraping. We're most certainly looking over our shoulder.”

QPR are still reported to be interested in signing Ipswich Town striker Tamas Priskin on transfer deadline day today, despite Roy Keane insisting last week that his Hungarian striker was “going nowhere.”