Kean seeks four early signings to revive Rovers

 

After his meeting yesterday with Blackburn Rovers' board of directors, Steve Kean plans to make at least four new signings in next month's transfer window. Kean, widely criticised by the club's supporters, claimed to have held constructive talks with the owners in recent days and, with as many as 10 first-team players unavailable for tomorrow's trip to Manchester United, is determined to make additions quickly.

Venky's reign at Ewood Park has been marred by problems in the transfer market, unfulfilled promises on big names and pointless haggling with Manchester United over Phil Jones' transfer fee. Kean accepts the same cannot take place next month if Blackburn, bottom of the table despite a 1-1 draw at Liverpool on Boxing Day, are to pull out of trouble.

Fulham striker Andy Johnson, who could be sold to avoid him leaving Craven Cottage on a free transfer when his contract expires in the summer, and Nottingham Forest's Wales right-back Chris Gunter are among Kean's early targets. Manchester City's Nedum Onuoha is also a possible signing. But after previous embarrassments in the transfer market, the Scot, who will attend weekly board meetings for the duration of the transfer window, also intends to take a more considered approach to his deals.

"I don't know if they know what they can afford," he said. "I have just been asked to compile a list of players in the areas in which we want to strengthen and after initial talks that were very positive, we are trying to get people in very quickly.

"What we do is put out what we would like to be able to get in and assess whether we are likely to be able to get them. If we can get them, great.

"Everybody knows we need to get players in during the early part of the window because the fixture list that we have got in January has very good games and we would like to strengthen then," Kean added. "If we can combine that with getting some lads out of the treatment room, the squad could be competitive and I'd like to get four players in during January."

Michel Salgado, who returned to Blackburn yesterday after heading back to Spain to discuss potential offers, looks set to leave Ewood Park next month. The former Real Madrid defender, 35, has claimed he has been left out of the Blackburn squad because any more appearances will trigger a new contract, a suggestion denied by Kean. But Salgado is likely to move closer to the exit after holding talks with the manager yesterday.

Bolstered by the draw at Anfield, Kean is hopeful Martin Olsson, missing with a hamstring problem, can return to action at Old Trafford, while fellow defender Gaël Givet is back in training after a heart scare. But goalkeeper Paul Robinson remains on the sidelines with a calf problem and Junior Hoilett is doubtful for the match against United.

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<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
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<p>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
<p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
<p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
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