Third time lucky for Murphy

SUNDERLAND striker Daryl Murphy is expected to sign for Ipswich early next week in a deal worth more than �3m - four years after the Irishman slipped through the club's hands.

Stuart Watson

SUNDERLAND striker Daryl Murphy is expected to sign for Ipswich early next week in a deal worth more than �3m - four years after the Irishman slipped through the club's hands.

The 26-year-old - currently in Ireland with his family - is believed to have had contract talks over the phone with Roy Keane yesterday, the Ipswich manager currently based in Portugal with his squad.

With a fee of over �3m having been agreed with Sunderland for the 6ft 3in front man early last week, and with Murphy currently earning a decent wage in the Premier League, the deal won't come cheap to Town.


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That makes the fact that the Republic of Ireland international was on trial at Portman Road four years ago as a youngster even harder for Town fans to take.

Murphy started his career at Irish side Waterford and showed enough potential to earn a trial at Portman Road early in 2004 under then manager Joe Royle, however, that was cut short when Murphy fell ill.

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Ultimately it proved to be the moment that Murphy proved to be the one that got away for Ipswich. Upon his return to Waterford he signed a new two-year deal, became Eircom League Young Player of the Year and earned his first Under-21 call-up.

A further trail followed at Ipswich but by that time other clubs had been alerted to the young striker and Sunderland came in and snatched him from under Royle's nose for �100,000.

Since then Murphy has made over 100 appearances for The Mackems, scoring 14 goals. He has also earned seven full international caps.

Meanwhile, fellow Sunderland player Dean Whitehead could follow Murphy through the doors of Portman Road - taking Ipswich's combined transfer fees paid to the north east club to �5m.

Whitehead is believed to be the other player that Keane was referring to on Tuesday when he said he had agreed a price with two players. That theory was further backed up yesterday when Sunderland tabled a formal offer for Wigan's Lee Cattermole, a player who is very much in the same central midfield mould as Whitehead.

When Keane was appointed Ipswich boss back in April he said he would be looking for a natural leader in his dressing room and singled out Whitehead - who, like Murphy, played under Keane at Sunderland - as a prime example of the impact a strong personality can have on a team.

The Whitehead deal will be slightly more complicated than the Murphy one however, with Whitehead believed to be on wages of �25,000 - a figure Ipswich would be unlikely to match.

Sunderland hope to replace Murphy with England Under-21 striker Frazier Campbell after agreeing a fee, thougth to be around �5m, with Manchester United. Black Cats boss Steve Bruce is also targeting Portsmouth's Peter Crouch and Tottenham's Darren Bent.

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