Trio top Albion's wanted list
Rob Green, Liam Ridgewell and Shane Long have emerged as the "three players" Roy Hodgson wants at West Brom before the start of the season. Hodgson has already added centre-back Gareth McAuley and right-back Billy Jones to his playing pool this summer, and has gone on record to say he is keen to add "two or three more players" before their Premier League opener with champions Manchester United on Sunday, August 14. Midfielder Zoltan Gera is all-but in the bag for the Baggies, and will pen a two-year contract once he proves his fitness having undergone surgery on his ankle last week. And former Manchester United hardman Owen Hargreaves has also been linked with a move to The Hawthorns on a pay-as-you-play deal. But moves for Green, Ridgewell and Long are above the injury-plagued midfielder, who has been trying to prove his fitness via Youtube clips, in Hodgson's transfer pecking order. And having only signed players on free transfers so far, Hodgson is happy to splash some of his transfer cash to get the trio on board. Speaking from Albion's training camp in California, he told the Express & Star: "If the deal for Gera goes through, as I am seriously hoping it will, that would be a third excellent acquisition, all of which would have been brought in for no transfer money. "That, hopefully, would give us a chance to get the last couple of pieces in the jigsaw of the right quality that might cost us a little bit more than these three have cost us. "It could be as many as five or six players coming in, all of whom would be great acquisitions, and the total outlay hopefully won't break the bank." England stopper Green is keen to leave West Ham following their relegation to the Championship, and there is room for him in Albion's budget following Scott Carson's surprise switch to Turkish giants Bursaspor. Birmingham defender Ridgewell has been the subject of three rejected bids from Albion - but Hodgson will ask chairman Jeremy Peace to up the ante as the 26-year-old can play in a number of positions across the back four so would be a valuable addition. And Reading striker Long is the man Hodgson has earmarked as the perfect partner for last season's top-scorer Peter Odemwingie, who is likely to sign a lucrative new contract before the big kick-off. The Royals have put a £10million price tag on the Irishman's head following his 25-goal haul in the second tier last season - and although reports claim the Baggies are ready to submit a club-record £8million bid for his services, an opening offer of £6million is more realistic. Albion supremo Peace sanctioned the £4.7million outlay on Borja Valero during Tony Mowbray's tenure - but £8million is likely to be the maximum amount he would agree to play, rather than the starting point of their bid. Even if Albion agree a fee with Reading over the coming weeks, they would face stiff competition for Long's signature as Newcastle, Everton, Celtic and Wolves have also been monitoring his situation at the Madejski Stadium.
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