Rovers return is a £2.2m Dunn deal

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The Independent Football

Blackburn Rovers caused ructions in the North-west yesterday when they tempted David Dunn to follow his heart rather than the lure of European football with Bolton Wanderers

Mark Hughes had a fruitful day in the transfer market ­ much to Sam Allardyce's annoyance ­ when he hijacked Dunn's transfer from Birmingham City to Bolton.

The Blackburn manager moved for the boyhood Rovers fan on Monday after it was confirmed midfielder Steven Reid would miss the rest of the season with a cruciate ligament injury, despite Dunn having agreed personal terms and passed a stringent medical at the Reebok Stadium.

Blackburn matched Bolton's offer of £2.2m for the former England Under-21 captain, although the transfer fee is heavily incentive-based owing to the injury problems that have blighted his career at St Andrew's, and last night he put pen to paper on a three-and-a-half-year contract at Ewood Park.

"I am back here at the club I've always supported," Dunn said. "As soon as Blackburn came in for me my mind was made up. It feels really good to be back. It has been a hectic week but I am glad it is all done and I am back in Blackburn. I am really pleased now that it has all come to a head and I've signed that piece of paper."

Dunn made 169 appearances for Rovers in his first spell with the club, winning the Worthington Cup in 2002 before falling out with former Rovers manager Graeme Souness and joining Birmingham for £5.5m.

"At the 11th hour Blackburn have pinched him," moaned the Bolton manager, Allardyce, last night. "We are extremely disappointed, but there is not a lot we can do about it. We were taking a gamble on a player with his injury record and it took a little longer than most because of the need to check out all the problems David has had. But, sadly, I think his heart is with Blackburn."

Allardyce added: "I always feel let down when you have got so far down the road spending so much time showing the player this is the best place to be to get his career back on track. But it was not quite a big enough pull compared to the town where he was born and bred."

The Birmingham manager, Steve Bruce, had maintained that he would not stand in Dunn's way but added: "It's a crying shame that with the talent he's got we never saw the best of him at Birmingham."

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