Jewell's persistence pays as Roberts joins Wigan

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The Independent Football

Brenda Spencer, the Wigan Athletic chief executive, paid tribute to the persistence of the manager, Paul Jewell, after the Latics finally completed the signing of Jason Roberts from West Bromwich Albion yesterday.

The 25-year-old striker cost a club record £1.4m, but that could rise to £2m depending on appearances during his three-and-a-half-year contract at the JJB Stadium.

Spencer said: "We've worked very hard to get this deal done and everyone is now delighted that it has gone through. Paul Jewell picked out Jason as a player that he wanted some time ago and he's relieved that the deal is done now.

"It is a big signing for the club and demonstrates the belief that the chairman has in Paul as he has backed his judgment financially once again. Paul has been very patient as he has waited for the right player and it's great that we have now been able to complete the deal."

Roberts almost signed for the Latics at the start of the season but joined Portsmouth on loan instead. He is now set to renew his strike partnership with Nathan Ellington, who at a cost of £1.2m, was Wigan's previous record signing. The two became good friends when they were at Bristol Rovers and now have the chance to lead Wigan's push for promotion.

The West Bromwich chairman, Jeremy Peace, insisted the club had little choice but to sell the player, who was unwilling to return to The Hawthorns. "Jason's representative made it absolutely clear to me Jason had no desire whatsoever to return to this club at any time," said Peace. "Jason's problems here in the past have been well documented, but I was told this didn't affect the situation and Jason just didn't want to come back to Albion.

"Therefore it was down to the club to get the best possible price for Jason and we think the deal with Wigan is a very good one in what is a depressed transfer market."

The United States international defender Carlos Bocanegra has joined Fulham on a free transfer, signing a three-year contract with the club. The 24-year-old arrives from the Major League Soccer side Chicago Fire, where he was out of contract.

The Fulham manager, Chris Coleman, said: "I have seen Carlos play and I could see that he has great potential. He reads the game well and is very skilful and strong which are the prime attributes of a defender. He has a great track record at international level, so I have no doubt he will acclimatise to the Premiership fairly quickly."

The Sunderland manager, Mick McCarthy, is giving a three-day trial to the US international Clint Mathis as he attempts to add firepower to his squad. The 27-year-old striker, who has scored 11 goals in 34 appearances for his country, arrived on Wearside yesterday after trials at Leicester City and Rangers had failed to result in contract offers. Mathis' chance comes after McCarthy decided not to offer a deal to the former Reading striker, Jamie Cureton.

McCarthy has spent much of the past few months looking at striking options to provide competition for Marcus Stewart, Tommy Smith, Kevin Kyle and Michael Proctor. He has already had an £800,000 bid for Huddersfield's Jon Stead turned down, although his interest in the player is not yet at an end.