West Ham land Neill as Warnock joins Rovers

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The Independent Football

West Ham United last night completed the £1.5m signing of Lucas Neill after Blackburn had secured the Liverpool left-back Stephen Warnock as a replacement for the Australian defender.

Rovers manager Mark Hughes had refused to release Neill without finding a replacementand, although Blackburn's options diminished on Saturday after Andre Ooijer suffered a broken leg and damaged ankle ligaments at Manchester City, Warnock's arrival last night - also for £1.5m - enabled the West Ham manager, Alan Curbishley, to make his fourth signing of the transfer window.

His fifth is the Seville striker Kepa Blanco, who has joined on loan until the end of the season with a view to a permanent move, for about £4m-5m.

The Hammers, who have beaten Charlton and Manchester City to Blanco's signature, are also considering increasing their bid for the Birmingham City defender Matthew Upson after an offer of £4m was rejected. They are also interested in Dutch centre-back Ruud Knol, a 25-year-old who plays for Vitesse Arnhem but who has refused to sign a new contract.

Neill, 28, turned down the chance to join Liverpool in a straight swap for Warnock after receiving an offer from West Ham which is believed to double his wages to £60,000 a week and include a get-out clause in the event of relegation. The Australia international is eligible to make his debut against Watford in the FA Cup this weekend having missed Blackburn's third-round victory at Everton and will be in line for a Premiership debut against Liverpool at Upton Park on 30 January.

Warnock has signed a three-and-a-half-year contract at Ewood Park. The 25-year-old has suffered from injuries at Liverpool, breaking his leg three times, costing him an extended run in the team. When fit, however, the Ormskirk-born full-back has proved a natural, dogged defender. Hughes said: "I like his attitude to the game. He wants to get up to people, he wants to put pressure on."

Blackburn, who travel to Watford tonight for a rearranged Premiership fixture, have also extended the contracts of the young strikers Matt Derbyshire and Paul Gallagher until 2010.

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