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Jones set to finally seal Anfield switch
Published : 13 Aug 2010 10:24:54
LIVERPOOL are confident of completing the capture of Brad Jones within the next 24 hours after lodging an improved £2.5m offer for the Middlesbrough goalkeeper yesterday. Boro officials issued a formal statement last night insisting they had not reached an agreement with the Anfield club over the transfer of the 28-year-old. However, a deal is imminent, with talks over the payment arrangements for the £2.5m fee understood to be ongoing. Gordon Strachan, who is close to completing a loan agreement that will see Sunderland defender Matt Kilgallon move to the Riverside until January, is already planning for life without Jones. And the Australia international is ready to travel to Merseyside for a medical once Boro give him permission to talk terms with Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson. Hodgson hopes to have Jones in place ahead of Sunday's Premier League opener with Arsenal, and the keeper could still be added to the squad for Thursday's Europa League qualifier with Trabzonspor. His time on Teesside would appear to be at an end, with Strachan still expected to sign an experienced replacement despite Jason Steele's impressive showing at Chesterfield on Tuesday. Steele produced an eyecatching display as Boro progressed to the second round of the Carling Cup, but given that he will not turn 20 until the middle of next week, it would be a major risk to enter September with just the Newton Aycliffe-born youngster and Danny Coyne on the club's books. He's a talented prospect, said Strachan. He's been brought up the right way and has a confidence about him without arrogance. He knows what's right and what's wrong and he has a chance of being a good goalkeeper. But it's still very early for him. You can only really speak about players once they're established and have made a name for themselves. Crystal Palace's Julian Speroni and Hamilton's Tomas Cerny continue to top Strachan's list of goalkeeping targets, but the Scot is likely to make a defensive signing before he addresses the situation between the sticks. Strachan is expected to discuss Kilgallon's situation with Sunderland boss Steve Bruce later today, and the versatile defender, who can play at centre-half or left-back, is poised to complete a shortterm switch to the Riverside shortly. I'll be getting together with Steve to have a chat, he said. We'll see what happens there. Even if he was to sign in the next 24 hours, though, Kilgallon would not be considered for tomorrow's Championship game at Leicester. Last weekend's 3-1 defeat to Ipswich dampened some of the pre-season enthusiasm that had swept across Teessside, but despite a number of the club's youngsters impressing at Chesterfield three days ago, Strachan will not be making wholesale changes this weekend. Barry Robson will retain his place in midfield despite sustaining a minor muscular injury while on international duty with Scotland. Gary O'Neil is not due to begin training until Monday as he completes his recovery from a groin problem, while Josh Walker's future remains uncertain despite an impressive return to first-team action at the b2Net Stadium. I have a 25-man squad in mind actually it's a 23 because I want to leave a couple of spaces empty just in case, said Strachan. I'll speak to Josh first though once I've decided what's going to happen. Steele will be the guest speaker when Middlesbrough Official Supporters Club meet at the Riverside Stadium's Fenton Suite on Monday, August 16 (7.30pm).