Football: Ekelund joins happy Saints

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SOUTHAMPTON have captured what their director of football, Lawrie McMenemy, describes as a 'real bargain' by signing the Danish striker, Ronnie Ekelund, from Barcelona for pounds 500,000.

Ekelund, who played for the Saints during their pre- season tour of the Netherlands and Belgium, is expected to figure in the match against Nottingham Forest at The Dell, but he will probably start on the bench.

'Ithas become increasingly difficult to sign quality players like Ronnie in England within the financial climate of the Premiership,' McMenemy said. 'But it's been a good week for the club after the win at Tottenham on Monday and now his arrival here. It shows everyone that you don't need to play in a big stadium to be a big club.'

Ekelund, 22, said he had always watched English football at home in Denmark and on television in Spain. 'I don't feel moving here from Barcelona means a drop in standard for me - the Premiership is regarded as one of the best in the world.'

Andy Goram has completed his reconciliation with the the Rangers manager, Walter Smith, and agreed a new four-year contract with the Scottish champions. Smith transfer-listed the Scottish international at the end of last season after a disagreement over his 'training routine'. Since then Goram has lost a stone and started the season in fine form.

Goram may find himself facing John Clark today. Clark, bought by Stoke from Dundee United for pounds 150,000 in February, has returned to Scotland to join Falkirk for pounds 100,000.

Barry Fry's wheeler-dealing of familiar players continued yesterday when the Birmingham manager signed Jonathan Hunt and Gary Poole from his former club Southend, who took Dave Regis, Roger Willis and pounds 100,000 in return. All four players were with Fry at Barnet.

Southend have sold their captain Keith Jones for to Charlton for pounds 150,000. The 28-year-old midfielder, who has had spells at Brentford and Chelsea, is set to make his debut against Swindon Town at The Valley.

Bryan Robson, Middlesbrough's player-manager, will be back in action in two weeks' time after x-rays revealed no serious damage to the foot he injured during the 2-1 win against West Brom.