The prospects of Roy Keane making a surprise move to West Bromwich Albion increased yesterday when Jeremy Peace, the club chairman, expressed an interest in signing the former Manchester United midfield player.
Bryan Robson, the Albion manager, who played with Keane in the early Nineties, wants to take the Irishman to The Hawthorns and Peace could sanction the move if the financial package is appropriate.
The word "if" is significant here, for Keane would command wages in excess of £30,000 per week and is being courted by most of the top-flight clubs. Still, Peace is happy for the club to be linked with Keane.
He said: "The very fact that we are talking about a player of his calibre shows how far we have come in the past few years. He is a tremendous player and he will have many options available. But it is about where Roy Keane wants to go."
Robson faces a goalkeeper selection poser for the Premiership clash away to Middlesbrough on Sunday, with Tomasz Kuszczak and Chris Kirkland vying for a place.
Kirkland, on loan from Liverpool, was in pole position until he suffered a bruised kidney against Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium and was advised to rest for up to a month.
But Kuszczak has impressed during the past three matches and kept a clean sheet - Albion's first since the opening day of the season - in the 4-0 demolition of Everton at The Hawthorns last Sunday.
Robson will make a final choice today or tomorrow on who will take the goalkeeping position. The manager will watch how the pair perform in training.
Robson said: "Chris was doing well before his injury knock and Tomasz has also done well for us. He conceded one goal at West Ham, where he wasn't to blame, and kept a clean sheet at the weekend.
"We also cannot forget Russell Hoult who did well on loan at Notts Forest and I wouldn't swap my three goalkeepers for anyone else's in the country.
"What I'll do is assess how all three get on in training. It's up to them to impress me and by Thursday I'll know which one is playing. It's a difficult decision but I have to be fair."
It is inconceivable that Hoult would leapfrog Kuszczak and Kirkland and it is the latter duo who are realistically fighting it out to play at the Riverside Stadium.
Paul Robinson, the leftback, will also be in contention after serving a threematch suspension for his sending-off against Fulham in the Carling Cup in September after a flare-up with Zat Knight.
But he could also face a fight to gain an automatic recall after Martin Albrechtsen impressed in the role at the weekend.
Robson said: "I've said if we get a good result I would want to stick with the same players to give us a chance to get some cohesion."
But Geoff Horsfield is battling to be fit. Albion's leading scorer was substituted during the first half of the match against Everton with a calf injury.
The former Birmingham City striker had been handicapped by the problem in the build-up to the match.
Robson said: "The calf was affecting Geoff early in the week so he had a few days off. He then trained last Thursday and Friday but after the first 15 minutes against Everton he was feeling the calf again.
"That's why we took him off straight away because we didn't want him to tear the calf. He's got a chance for the weekend. He's not too bad."