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Thursday, January 10, 2008
Savage: Sunderland have blown survival chance

Robbie Savage has accused relegation rivals Sunderland of blowing their big chance of Barclays Premier League survival after completing his 1.5million move to Derby on Wednesday.

Savage was openly courted by Black Cats boss Roy Keane but the Welshman insists he decided to sign for the rock-bottom Rams because Paul Jewell was more eager to secure his services.

Savage said: 'The chairman and manager wanted me more than any other club and that means a lot to me.

'It's well known that Sunderland put in a bid for me but I never really felt that they were too keen.

'If I was them, I would have gone the whole hog to get me because I'm the type of player who can keep a team in the Premier League.

'But after speaking to Paul and the chairman I knew Derby wanted me more. I'm excited about the challenge and I'm looking forward to my long-term future here.'

Former Leicester favourite Savage knows he will have to win over some Rams fans with whom he has had run-ins in the past but the 33-year-old is confident his form on the pitch will speak volumes.

'I've played in a lot of local derbies and whichever club you play at there is never anything better than beating your local rivals,' added Savage.

'When I was a Leicester player I did everything I could to beat Derby. If I was to play against Leicester next year, I would be doing the same for Derby.

'Obviously it looks like Derby will be playing Championship football next year but there's a way of going down and that will really help us as we regroup for next season wherever we are.

'Realistically if we can win a few more and go down fighting and not with a whimper, that will count for a lot.'

Boss Jewell is clearly intent on fulfilling his new midfielder's immediate goals with two new players, former Tottenham star Hossam Ghaly and goalkeeper Roy Carroll, poised to sign before Saturday's clash with his old club Wigan.

Ghaly has been at the Rams training ground this week and is awaiting a work permit, while Jewell has admitted making contact with Rangers boss Walter Smith over Carroll in a bid to solve his goalkeeping problems.

Jewell said: 'The chairman has spoken to his agent and Walter Smith and hopefully we can get that one over the line today or tomorrow. If he comes, Roy Carroll is a top-class goalkeeper.'

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