Keane spending hits £35m after signing of Jones

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The Independent Online

Roy Keane completed a hectic 24 hours of transfer activity yesterday by signing the striker Kenwyne Jones from Southampton for £6m, hot on the heels of capturing Danny Higginbotham, the Stoke defender, for £3m and agreeing terms with Ian Harte, the former Leeds full-back.

And Keane's recruitment drive is still not over as he is also trying to bring Thomas Gravesen from Celtic. Sunderland are in talks with the former Everton and Real Madrid midfielder and will find out today if the Dane is going to move to Wearside. The fee would be nominal.

Sunderland have lost their last three games – the last a 3-0 reverse at the hands of League One side Luton Town in the Carling Cup on Tuesday – and have been rocked by the news that their captain Dean Whitehead will be out for six months with the cruciate knee ligament injury he picked up in the recent defeat at Wigan.

Keane responded yesterday by taking Sunderland's spending since winning promotion from the Championship last season to £35m and was particularly pleased to sign Jones despite strong interest from Derby County in the 22-year-old Trinidad & Tobago striker.

"I'm delighted that Kenwyne is a Sunderland player," Keane said. "He was very keen to join this club and that is always a good thing. He is a big strong boy, who is quick and athletic too. He has real physical presence and is the type of player we've been missing."

Jones effectively went on strike at Southampton last week by refusing to play in their home game against Stoke City on Saturday, a move which prompted the Championship club to reverse their opposition to selling him. As part of the deal for Jones, his Trinidad & Tobago team-mate Stern John heads the other way to St Mary's.

The defensive pair Higginbotham and Harte both played alongside their new manager before his retirement and join a growing number of former colleagues signed by Keane since his appointment a year ago.

Harte, who has moved to Wearside on a free transfer after a successful trial, was a Republic of Ireland team-mate of Keane, who was at Manchester United at the same time as Higginbotham.

The 28-year-old centre-half started his career at Old Trafford but made just seven senior appearances before leaving for Derby in 2000.

"I've played alongside Ian and I know the qualities he can bring to our club," Keane added. "You need a big squad in the Premier League and he will add strength to ours. And I'm pleased that, after long negotiations, we've signed a player of Danny's quality. I know him personally and he's a great character. He can play at centre-half or left-back so his versatility will be a big plus for us."

Harte was a key member of the Leeds side who briefly challenged for honours at the top of the Premier League and reached the Champions League semi-final in 2001. Since then he has spent three years in Spain with Levante, who released him this summer. "It's great to be back in the Premier League," he said. "I want to get playing as soon as possible."

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