Football: West Ham sign Pearce as cover

THE FORMER England full- back Stuart Pearce played in a 5-0 reserve team victory at non-League St Albans City last night after joining West Ham on a free transfer from Newcastle.

The Hammers manager, Harry Redknapp, signed the tough, 37-year-old defender after last week's attempt to re-sign the Croatian Slaven Bilic fell through after a medical. Pearce has signed a one-year deal and will shore up a West Ham defence affected by injuries to Ian Pearce and Neil Ruddock.

Coventry's manager, Gordon Strachan, has bought the Norwegian winger Runar Normann from Lillestrom for an undisclosed fee and said the fee was "way below" the pounds 1m figure quoted in reports at the weekend. Coventry are believed to have agreed a sliding scale which will be subject to the number of games played by the 21-year-old.

Craig Short yesterday became Blackburn's third pre-season signing when he completed a pounds 2.1m move from Everton. The 31-year-old central defender has agreed a four-year contract and joins fellow Ewood Park new boys, defender Simon Grayson and goalkeeper Alan Kelly.

Blackburn's manager, Brian Kidd, has said his pounds 2.6m bid for the Bradford City striker, Robbie Blake, is a "take it or leave it" offer. Bradford have valued Blake at pounds 5m but will probably have to accept less.

The former Manchester United striker Mark Robins has joined Walsall on a free transfer after a trial at the newly promoted First Division club.

Alessandro Pistone's hopes of leaving Newcastle United to join the Turkish champions, Galatasaray, were dealt a blow last night when he was injured during a friendly match at Hartlepool United. The Italian defender left Victoria Park on crutches with his knee strapped.

John Oster is prepared to forgo a loyalty bonus from Everton in order to join Sunderland in a pounds 750,000 transfer.

The Leicester City goalkeeper Kasey Keller has agreed a two-year contract with the Spanish club Rayo Vallecano.

West Bromwich Albion, of the First Division, are expected to unveil Brian Little as their new manager this morning.

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