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Lee Carsley
"The Premier League is the place to be"
 real 14k

Friday, 1 December, 2000, 12:35 GMT
Persistent Coventry land Carsley
Frank Lampard and Lee Carsley
Lee Carsley (r): Eager to return to Premiership
Premiership strugglers Coventry City have completed the signing of Republic of Ireland midfielder Lee Carsley from Blackburn Rovers.

The 26-year-old has joined in a four-and-a-half year deal believed to be worth around 2.5m.

Coventry manager Gordon Strachan has targetted former Derby player Carsley since the start of the season.

Strachan said: "I made my mind up that I wanted Lee here early in the year when I knew that Gary McAllister was leaving.

"It has taken a long time and it has been down to perseverance - I have checked on his availability every two weeks.

Eager to move

Carsley will not make his Coventry debut at Bradford on Saturday because of "personal reasons".

Strachan said: "Lee has had a dramatic week personally and has had things going on in his life which are not conducive to playing football. He will train from scratch on Monday."

Coventry have lost their last six Premiership games and have only managed one league victory at home this season.

But Carsley was still keen to move to Highfield Road. He said: "I spoke to Gordon Strachan and was impressed with what he had to say.

"He said that we have got a fight on our hands but we are very confident. I also spoke to Robbie Keane and Gary Breen, who I know from the Republic of Ireland squad, and they had nothing but good things to say about the club.

"I made it known in the summer that I wanted to return to the Premiership and when I got the chance I jumped at it.

"I said I would give it a season at Blackburn, which I did, and I had a great time there. It is a lovely club and I made a lot of friends there."

Carsley, who was captain and top scorer at Ewood Park last season, put in a transfer request this summer.

Although he later withdrew it, he has struggled to hold down a first-team place in Souness's squad this season.

Carsley cost Blackburn 3.4m in March 1999 when he joined the Lancashire club from Derby.

Souness has recently dismissed suggestions he has been anti-Irish in his treatment of players, after Carsley, along with Alan Kelly and Jason McAteer, have all lost their first team places.

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See also:

29 Nov 00 |  Northern Ireland
Souness rejects anti-Irish accusation
19 Jul 00 |  Blackburn Rovers
Carsley wants out
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