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Keane's double swoop bid

PUBLISHED: 09:11 21 May 2009 | UPDATED: 09:39 06 July 2010

ROY Keane has made a double swoop to bring in defenders Paul McShane and Danny Higginbotham.

The Blues boss has sounded out both players about a move to Ipswich Town and hopes to have them signed and sealed when the Premier League season finishes.

ROY Keane has made a double swoop to bring in defenders Paul McShane and Danny Higginbotham.

The Blues boss has sounded out both players about a move to Ipswich Town and hopes to have them signed and sealed when the Premier League season finishes.

But Birmingham City are set to hand Keane a double summer signing blow by securing Celtic's Bobo Balde and Manchester United's Lee Martin.

Keane is particularly looking at the left-back position with Dan Harding last night told he will not be offered a new contract to stay with Town, Matt Richards released last week and Ben Thatcher struggling with injury.

Keane has made it clear he is targeting players he knows and all four linked today fall into that category.

He has played with McShane and Higginbotham at Manchester United and then managed the pair at Sunderland.

Republic of Ireland defender McShane is still a Black Cat, although was sent out on loan to Hull City earlier in the season but was recalled by Ricky Sbragia for the latter part of the season as Sunderland battle for Premier League survival.

Although he was part of the Red Devils' 2003 FA Youth Cup winning side, McShane never made a full team debut for United and moved to Brighton at the beginning of the 2005 season, initially on loan, but stayed the full season and was named supporters' Player of the Year.

The 23-year-old moved to West Brom in August 2006 and had a season with them, playing under Tony Mowbray, but was lured to Sunderland by Keane who forked out £31.5m for the centre back.

The six-foot tall defender is out of contract in the summer and so would be available as a free agent and his versatility and experience, coupled with the fact Keane knows his character, makes him a strong candidate to join the Blues.

Securing Higginbotham may be a bit more complicated although Keane is understood to have enquired about his availability.

Former United, Derby, and Southampton defender Higginbotham is happily enjoying a second stint at Stoke City after moving back there from Sunderland.

Keane paid £2.5m for the left-back and the Black Cats got their money back when he returned to the Potteries.

Higginbotham's family never moved from Cheshire and it is unlikely they would favour a move to East Anglia which is something the club would insist upon.

Keane has been strongly linked with soon-to-be-out-of-contract Balde, but the Frenchman has signed a pre-agreement to join Birmingham for their pre-season and will link up with Alex McLeish's side on July 8.

McLeish is also hoping to secure left winger Martin from Old Trafford and is prepared to pay the £31.5m it would need to take the player, who could prefer the prospect of Premier League football than another stint in the Championship after being on loan with Nottingham Forest earlier in the season.

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