SUNDERLAND 10 YEARS AGO: Cats keen on Scottish prospects, Keane says no late moves

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Here’s what the Echo was reporting 10 years ago.

CATS KEEN ON YOUNG SCOTS: Brown and Thomson attract attention

Sunderland are ready to enter the race for the hottest property in Scottish football.

The Black Cats are keeping tabs on Hibernian pair Scott Brown and Kevin Thomson, who are also interesting Glasgow giants Rangers.

Sunderland scouting director Bobby Saxton has watched the pair, who were identified five years ago as Premiership prospects. Black Cats’ chairman Niall Quinn is also said to have taken in Hibs games.

There is expected to be a rush of fresh bids for the midfield duo when the January transfer window opens.

Their agent Willie McKay has revealed that Rangers have already sent written interest in both players to Hibs.

The Easter Road outfit have previously rebuffed approaches from Charlton Athletic and Nottingham Forest.

Hibernian hope a £3million price tag on each will scare away much of the interest but it is clear that in recently hiring McKay, Brown and Thomson are keen to maximise their potential – and earning power.

Twenty-one-year-old Brown already has more than 100 first-team appearances under his belt and made his senior Scotland debut as a substitute in the 1-1 draw with the USA a year ago and featured in a goal-less ‘B’ international against the Republic of Ireland earlier this month.

Thomson is 22 and, like Brown, came up through the ranks of the Edinburgh club, emerging as an influential player under former boss Tony Mowbray. He has been capped six times by Scotland Under-21s.

Hibs boss John Collins, who succeeded Mowbray and made a quick impact with four wins and a draw in his five games so far, is eager to keep hold of his young stars.

He said: “They are Hibs players on long-term contracts and I am desperate for them to stay. They are playing well and I am sure the chairman will make them new contract offers when he feels it is right.”

But McKay says Hibs have to act quickly to retain the pair.

He said: “They are willing to sign for Hibs for half what they would earn were they to be sold for £3million each. That is the figure Hibs have quoted to Rangers, Charlton and Nottingham Forest.”

KEANE: NO TRANSFERS EXPECTED TODAY

Roy Keane does not expect any players to be coming in or leaving Sunderland today as the emergency transfer window closes.

Today is the last day that clubs can bring in players ahead of the January transfer window. But the Black Cats boss is not optimistic about any new arrivals.

He has been linked with Sheffield United winger Paul Ifill among a host of possible targets. And Sunderland are believed to have been close on a deal for Spurs reserve keeper Martin Fulop.

But Keane believes that there will be no new arrivals before transfer deadline.

He said: “We’ve been looking at players – we’re always looking at players. But for the moment, I don’t see anything happening in that respect.

“One of the disappointing things is that the first question you tend to be asked when you enquire about a player, is the player asks immediately about money.

“That disappoints me because straight away I’m wondering whether this player actually wants to play for Sunderland Football Club.

“We’ve had players who haven’t even been playing in their first team for their club, more interested in money than the prospect of getting a game. And that hasn’t helped the situation at all.

“To say it has been frustrating at times is an understatement.”