Laws shores up defences in Burnley's drop battle

The Burnley manager Brian Laws has reacted swiftly to Tuesday's defeat by Bolton which plunged the club into the Premier League relegation zone for the first time this season.

Yesterday he drafted in the experienced defender Leon Cort from Stoke for £1.5m and former Manchester City goalkeeper Nicky Weaver, following his spell at Dundee United. Stoke say the deal could rise to £2m for Cort, who has signed a three-and-a half-year deal at Turf Moor.

Cort, 30, was Stoke's record signing at £1.2m when he arrived at the Britannia Stadium from Crystal Palace two years ago, and played a key part in the club's promotion to the Premier League in the 2007-08 season.

However, he has found his first-team opportunities limited since then due to the form of Ryan Shawcross and Abdoulaye Faye, and the arrival of summer signing Robert Huth.

Stoke manager Tony Pulis said: "Leon was an influential figure in the club's promotion triumph and a dependable performer whenever called upon in our first season in the Premier League. We would like to thank him for his contribution to that success and wish him all the best in the future with his new club."

After losing his first three games in charge since replacing Owen Coyle, now at Bolton, Laws expects to call on defender Andre Bikey for the home match against Chelsea on Saturday following the defender's return from Africa Cup of Nations duty with Cameroon.

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