Stern signs... just!

IT was touch and go, but Ipswich Town finally landed striker Stern John on loan from Crystal Palace, with just minutes to spare!

Carl Marston

IT was touch and go, but Ipswich Town finally landed striker Stern John on loan from Crystal Palace, with just minutes to spare!

For most of yesterday, it was looking unlikely that Roy Keane would successfully sign his much-sought after new striker, especially with the clock ticking ahead of the 5pm transfer deadline for loan deals.

But Town sent off the paperwork just before the deadline, and the John deal was duly processed. However, confirmation that the move had been ratified did not come through until a nerve-wracking two hours later.

Keane had admitted, in recent days, that he was desperate to recruit a new front-runner to bolster his misfiring strike-force, ahead of this Sunday's huge test at hosts Cardiff City.

And with the capture of John, the Irishman has at least recruited a player with a proven track record at Championship level, and also a player that he knows very well.

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John has been signed on loan until January, which means that he will be available for the next seven games, a period which could well determine Keane's fate as Ipswich boss.

The powerfully-built John, who is now 33, made a name for himself at Nottingham Forest, Birmingham City and Coventry City, before Keane signed him when he was the manager of Sunderland at the start of 2007.

John responded with five goals in 10 starts for the Black Cats, helping them to clinch the Championship title and so promotion to the Premier League.

The Trinidad & Tobago striker only stayed at the Stadium of Light for seven months. He moved on to Southampton in the close-season, before ending up at Crystal Palace last summer.

John has so far struggled to make an impact at Selhurst Park, although his cause was not helped by picking up an injury on his debut, in the opening day 1-1 draw against Plymouth.

Since returning to action in October, following surgery on his elbow, he has made a further five appearances but only started one game. He is yet to score for Palace.

His powerful presence should at least offer Keane something different up front, and he should make his debut straight away at Cardiff.

Sunday's hosts Cardiff, meanwhile, were content to let players leave rather than bring in any new recruits yesterday - the Welsh club are saddled with big debts.

Out-of-favour-striker Warren Feeney was farmed out on loan to Sheffield Wednesday, having started just one game since his move from Luton in 2007.

And defender Tony Capaldi, who has also been a bit-part player in recent months, made the loan switch to League One leaders Leeds United.