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By ESPN Staff
Aug 9, 2007

Keane wants Black Cats to hit the ground running

Sunderland manager Roy Keane has called on his players 'to hit the ground running' next week upon the club's return to the Premier League.

The Black Cats open their campaign with a tricky but not necessarily daunting trio of matches in eight days, starting at home to Tottenham, followed by trips to Birmingham and Wigan.

'It is important for any team to make a good start,' said Keane. 'I'd like to think it won't make or break our season, but having said that we want to hit the ground running.

'It's a difficult week. Straight away we are tested, and the squad is tested. But that is the beauty of the Premiership - you are tested week in and week out.

'Okay, we've tough games next week, but I'd rather be facing those challenges than trying to get out of the Championship.'

It is a squad that has seven new faces in it, potentially eight if Keane quickly ties up a deal for Cork City striker Roy O'Donovan.

O'Donovan is expected to agree terms on a three-year deal, with the club already striking a deal of £600,000 - half now and half via clauses - with their eircom League counterparts.

The fee pushes Keane's spending this summer to over £27million, with potentially a third of that on Scotland and Hearts goalkeeper Craig Gordon, who has signed a five-year contract yesterday.

Keane said: 'Roy is having a medical this morning after we reached an agreement with Cork City.

'He's done very well in the League of Ireland but is ready for a new challenge. He knows where the back on the net is, he's aggressive and could do very well for us.'

'I could not turn down a chance to play in the English Premier League,' Gordon told Hearts' official website.

'It is a massive opportunity to me. I have always said I wanted to try the Premier League at some point and this is a great opportunity to do that.

'Sunderland are an ambitious club with a fanatical support and I think that is something similar to what we have at Hearts. The fans are fanatical about their club.'

Keane has not finished his pursuit of fresh blood as he said: 'Like I've said many times before, if I think there is a player out there I think can help improve us I have to be interested.

'I think we need two more players, and we've identified two more we hope to sort out next week.

'So far I've been very lucky getting the players we have. Most of the deals we've gone for have come off.

'I've obviously had good backing from Niall (Quinn), Peter Walker and the board, and I'm grateful for that.

'It's important we bring the right player to the club. I won't spend the money willy nilly.

'We want to bring in the right characters, and I'm delighted with the lads we've brought in.'

Keane is also hoping to hear in the next 24 hours whether his bid for Tottenham's Egyptian striker Mido has been successful.

'One or two other clubs have shown a bit of interest but we expect an answer in the next 24 hours,' Keane added.

'We are hopeful but until a player signs on the dotted line you can never be sure.'