McKenzie not for sale - Worthy

CHRIS WISE New Sunderland boss Roy Keane will be handed funds to strengthen his squad before tomorrow's transfer deadline - but he will be given short shrift if he decides to make a move for Norwich City striker Leon McKenzie.


New Sunderland boss Roy Keane will be handed funds to strengthen his squad before tomorrow's transfer deadline - but he will be given short shrift if he decides to make a move for Norwich City striker Leon McKenzie.

Reports in the north east suggested that the want-away frontman was one of the names on the new manager's shopping list following the decision of former favourite Kevin Phillips to choose a move to West Bromwich Albion instead.

They went on to claim that youngster Chris Brown, who has scored eight goals in 55 appearances at the Stadium of Light, would be used as a makeweight in the deal.

After unveiling Keane as new Sunderland manager chairman Niall Quinn said he would have money to spend immediately - but his opposite number Nigel Worthington made it clear yesterday that McKenzie was not for sale, and would still be a Norwich player after the deadline for permanent transfers had passed.

“I don't know where the story came from but I shouldn't imagine it was from Roy Keane,” he said. “I don't think he will start revealing his targets to the press.

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“There has been no contact whatsoever between the two football clubs.

“I've said it before and I'll say it again - I don't want to sell Leon. He made a transfer request and it was turned down and that's all there is to say as far as I am concerned. He is an important part of the squad - and will still be here after the deadline has passed.”

Worthington has been devoting all his energy to trying to bring in fresh faces before midnight tomorrow, but admitted yesterday that he was “not getting too excited” about his chances of success.

With less than 48 hours to go before the transfer window shuts, the Canaries have added just winger Lee Croft to their first-team pool since the end of last season.

While his side has made an impressive start to the Coca-Cola Championship campaign, Worthington has still been looking to strengthen his attacking armoury and find cover for skipper Adam Drury at left-back, as well as extra goalkeeping cover following Robert Green's move to West Ham.

But he said: “There is nothing to get excited about at this moment in time. We will keep looking, but people are not moving about too much with the prices that are being bandied about.”

He said there was no progress to report on a new goalkeeper or possible loan signings and put the likelihood of new faces arriving today or tomorrow at no greater than “50-50”.

“We have got an excellent group players here and have made a good start to the season, but that doesn't mean we stop looking around,” he continued. “We have been fortunate so far with injuries, which makes a pleasant change from last season, but you can never take anything for granted on that front.

“We could do with more cover in certain areas but won't be bringing in people for the sake of it. It's got to be the right person at the right price.”

Meanwhile, Worthington will be keeping his fingers crossed as four of his key players head off for international duty.

The spine of the side that demolished Barnsley 5-1 and has helped City to second place in the Championship table will be broken, as Gary Doherty, Carl Robinson and Robert Earnshaw go off to play in Euro 2008 qualifying matches, while Youssef Safri makes the trip to Morocco for an African Nations Cup qualifier.

Centre-back Doherty has earned a recall to Steve Staunton's Republic of Ireland squad which faces a tough trip to Stuttgart in Germany to take on the World Cup semi-finalists in Group Four of the European Championship qualifiers.

Meanwhile, striker Earnshaw, who scored in his seventh home game in a row on Saturday, and midfielder Robinson, who struck his first for the club, are both picked for Wales.

They also have a difficult clash lined up away to the Czech Republic in their opening qualifying match, also in Group Four.

Midfielder Safri took part in training in Rabat as the Atlas Lions prepare to take on Malawi in their first qualifying games as they bid to make the 2008 African Cup of Nations.

But with City not wanting an international break at all following their Carrow Road romp on Saturday, Worthington may be sitting uncomfortably on the edge of his sofa as his charges take the field.

However, the Northern Irishman, who played 66 times for his country and always wants his players to represent their countries when they can, admits there will be nothing he can do but sit and watch when the games kick off on Saturday.

“That's the situation and you have to deal with it,” Worthington said. “We have got players away and the main thing is that they get back here in good shape and stay fit.”