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By ESPN Staff

Yorke signs new deal with Sunderland

Roy Keane landed his first summer target today when he persuaded veteran midfielder Dwight Yorke to continue his career at Sunderland.

The 36-year-old has signed a new one-year deal, allowing Keane to retain one of his most experienced players as he attempts to assemble a squad capable of competing in the Premier League.

Yorke, who had been linked with a return to Australia, has played a key role for the club in his two seasons on Wearside and admitted the decision to stay was an easy one.

He said: 'It has been a tremendous two years for me at Sunderland. I have got to know the players and the staff and the fans have been great to me.

'In the end, it was a straightforward decision. I had one or two things to think about and I knew I needed to make a decision. Once the manager gave me the thumbs up, it was easy to sign.'

Yorke joined the Black Cats from Sydney FC during August 2006 as Keane made six deadline-day signings after taking the manager's job.

He helped the club regain its top-flight status at the first attempt, making 21 appearances throughout the campaign.

Keane said: 'Yorkie's experience on and off the pitch has been invaluable to us. He's a great character to have in the dressing room and around the training ground and he will have a part to play for us next season.'

The former Manchester United midfielder, who will celebrate his 37th birthday in November, is confident he still has plenty to offer at Sunderland.

Keane has signalled his intention to add proven Premier League class to his squad this summer, and his one-time Old Trafford team-mate certainly has that, although the manager will also be looking for some longer-term signings.

He and chairman Niall Quinn are continuing their efforts to strengthen the squad with their strikeforce a major focus.

However, sources on Wearside today insisted they have not yet agreed a fee with Tottenham for Darren Bent.

There is little doubt the Black Cats have an interest in the 24-year-old, who cost Spurs £16.5million when they bought him from Charlton.

Sunderland have a policy of not commenting on transfer speculation, but it is understood Bent, who would command a fee of in excess of £10million, is among a series of targets under consideration.

However, with Aston Villa and Celtic also reportedly on the former Ipswich youngster's trail and his sizeable wage packet a consideration - he reputedly earns £65,000 a week at White Hart Lane - no deal is imminent.

Meanwhile, Sheffield United have confirmed they have signed full-back Greg Halford on a season-long loan deal.

The 23-year-old joined Sunderland in a £2.5million move from Reading last summer, but endured a miserable first season at the Stadium of Light, managing just nine senior appearances, two of which resulted in red cards.

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