Writer: Peter Simcox
Date:Saturday January 6 2007
Pearson - Is he Pride Park bound?
The Rams interest in Celtic midfielder Stephen Pearson has been re-ignited and they hope to bring him to Pride Park in the transfer window.
Rams boss Billy Davies has confirmed that he has made an enquiry for the 24-year-old Scottish International, who was a £600,000 transfer target in the summer. Despite rumours of the move then, Pearson went on to score the third goal against Benfica in Celtic's Champions League home game, to take the score to 3-0, which he described as 'the moment of my career'.
Davies had ruled out a move for the left-sided player, after clinching the permanent signing of David Jones from Manchester United, but Davies, who is a huge fan of the talented midfielder after working with him during his time as manager at Motherwell, has had a change of heart. He said: "We have put ourselves back in the picture for Pearson and we are hoping to move talks forward over the next two or three days." . There are a number of clubs chasing his signature and the Rams face competition from Championship rivals Sunderland and the player could link up with Roy Keane at the Stadium of light, the pair having been Celtic team mates last season.
Celtic boss Gordon Strachan, turned down the Rams offer in the summer, and this upset Davies, and he assured everyone he was not interested anymore. But with the Rams in the automatic promotion spot Davies now believe a strong squad is needed for the final push and Pearson would be a vital part of this. Celtic boss Strachan said: 'Sunderland have inquired about Stephen, so have Derby and Norwich. They are at this moment putting bids to our chief executive.
'I keep telling Stephen every time I see him that I don't want him to leave. He is a gem of a bloke who has been a good team-mate but now he wants to be a star in his own right.
'I am 100 per cent behind that. If he does end up in the Championship, he will do a good job no problem whatsoever.'
Pearson, who joined Celtic for £350,000 in 2004 from Motherwell, has been unable to hold down a regular place this season, and he want`s regular first team football and believes he can get this at the Rams.
Meanwhile the goalkeeping situation at Pride Park is still up in the air, with Lee Grant set to stay at Pride Park until the end of the season. With Davies saying unless a 'very good' offer comes in for the former England Under-21 goalkeeper he will stay.
Grant's contract expires in the summer and he seems in no hurry to sign a new one. It`s clear the Rams manager Billy Davies is keen to keep two senior keepers on the staff. He said: "Granty wants to go and play first team football and tells me it has got nothing to do with financial matters.
'If somebody comes in with a very good offer for him then, of course, we would have to look at it but Granty is an important part of the squad between now and the end of the season unless something changes.
'I have explained this to him and he is a good pro. He understands and is getting on with the job.
'As far as I am concerned he is the number two goalkeeper at the club and could play a big part because we need that back-up."
The other Rams keeper is out of favour, Lee Camp, who is expected to find a new club during the transfer window - he recently returned from a loan spell at Norwich City
Davies said: 'It is important we have two very good keepers because I expect something to happen with Campy and that would leave us with Stephen Bywater and Granty.'
Date:Saturday January 6 2007
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