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Friday, January 15, 1999 Published at 07:57 GMT

Dons swoop for Hartson

John Hartson: "This is a great move for me"

Wimbledon have signed West Ham striker John Hartson for 7.5m.

The 23-year-old Welsh international could go straight into the first team against Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Saturday.

Wimbledon owner Sam Hammam said: "The fee is 7.5m. He will have a medical this morning (Friday). We are delighted to have signed such a quality player."

The deal smashes Wimbledon's previous transfer record of 2m for Port Vale winger Gareth Ainsworth.

Manager Joe Kinnear, who has been chasing Hartson for some time, admitted: "I'm delighted. John is a smashing lad and a top-quality striker who has proved himself with 24 goals last season.

"He's only 23 but he is experienced and skilful.

"People might wonder at the size of the fee for a club like Wimbledon but I have half a dozen worth that much in my squad."

Hartson, who will sign a six-year deal if he passes a medical, said: "This is a great move for me.

"Joe has worked wonders and I know Wimbledon style needs someone like me - a strong target man who can score goals."

New faces are likely at Upton Park in the near future with West Ham boss Harry Redknapp looking to strengthen his squad.

"Business is business and this offer was just too good to turn down. Everybody slagged me off when I bought him from Arsenal for 2.5m two years ago, saying he wasn't worth it.

"I need to get two or three players in and this sale has given me the cash I need."

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