Football: Rovers reunion for Kidd and Gillespie

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The Independent Online
BRIAN KIDD has made Keith Gillespie his first major signing for Blackburn, and looks set to appoint Brian McClair as his deputy by the end of the week.

Rovers landed the Newcastle and Northern Ireland winger in a pounds 2.35m deal and Gillespie has signed a four and a half year contract at Ewood Park.

Gillespie was bought by Kevin Keegan as part of the deal which took Andy Cole to Manchester United in January 1995. Kidd is no stranger to his talents after watching him develop as a youngster at Old Trafford.

When Gillespie left United, his then manager, Alex Ferguson, admitted he had not wanted to part with the Northern Ireland winger. But his hand was forced by a ruling from Uefa, European football's governing body, which restricted the amount of non-English players sides could field in European competitions.

Kidd could barely hide his delight at taking the 23-year-old to Ewood Park. "I don't have to justify this signing, because Keith is pure quality," he said. "He is one of a dying breed, and I believe his best years are ahead of him.

"I also believe he will prove a big favourite with the fans.

Kidd added that he was unconcerned by Gillespie's recent injuries and concerns that they could hamper his progress at Ewood Park.

"We are thoroughly happy with the medical side of things. He hasn't had a scan, and there is no problem with anything like that," Kidd said.

Gillespie, meanwhile, immediately shrugged off talk of relegation at his new club, adding he is sure that under Kidd's control Rovers will not only survive but prosper.

"I know their position in the league doesn't look good but I think it's a false picture. There are too many good players here, and I feel sure we can pull through."

McClair was given permission to leave his Motherwell contract yesterday and sign on at Rovers as Kidd's assistant manager. The Scot has agreed to the move after talks with Pat Nevin, the chief executive of Motherwell.

While Kidd will coach the first team, McClair will be a buffer with the squad as he cuts his teeth in management.