West Ham turning Australian

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The Independent Online
Ray Harford made his first major signing as the Blackburn Rovers manager yesterday when West Ham agreed a pounds 1.2m exchange deal for Matt Holmes. The London club will receive pounds 600,000 for the 26-year-old midfield player, with Rovers' Australian international Robbie Slater moving in the opposite direction.

Slater's arrival completed an Australian double for West Ham, who also signed Stan Lazarides, a winger from East Adelaide. Peter Storrie, the West Ham managing director, said: "We have brought in two for one and made some money at the same time. Stan is an outstanding prospect, an old-fashioned winger, and everybody knows about Rob Slater's abilities. It's not about balancing the books. When you sell good players you need to bring good players in."

Lazarides, who has now returned to Australia to await a work permit, rejected a last-minute bid from Sheffield Wednesday before committing himself to West Ham, with whom he had been training and playing during the pre-season.

However, it is unlikely to be the end of West Ham's transfer dealings, with Storrie admitting that the club are looking to sell one or two other players in the next fortnight to raise money for further arrivals. Portsmouth's Gerry Creaney is not a target, but Martin Allen, linked with a swap deal the other way, may yet move on. He is interesting Derby.

While Eric Cantona returned to Manchester yesterday, the future of Andrei Kanchelskis remained uncertain after Maurice Watkins, the Manchester United club solicitor returned from Ukraine after talks with the winger's former club, Shakhtyor Donetsk. Watkins attempted to reach a compromise over Donetsk's claims to a pounds 1.1m cut of the fee of pounds 5m agreed between United and Everton, but this was not forthcoming.

Sunderland, who learned yesterday that the American goalkeeper, Brad Friedel, has been refused a work permit, have enquired about David Kelly, Wolves' Republic of Ireland striker. Wolves would want to recoup at least the pounds 750,000 they paid Newcastle for him two years ago.

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