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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 February 2006, 18:07 GMT
Merson opts to sign for Tamworth
Exclusive by Pete Oliver

Paul Merson
Merson was sacked by Walsall
Former England international Paul Merson has agreed to play for Conference side Tamworth in a major coup for the struggling club.

The 37-year-old Merson, who was recently sacked as Walsall player-manager, will play for Tamworth until the end of the season.

"He is coming to join us on Thursday and it's a great signing," Tamworth boss Mark Cooper told BBC Sport.

Tamworth are currently third from bottom in the Conference table.

The Midlands club are one of just four part-time teams in the Conference division.

"I have got to know Paul over the past year or two from trying to pinch his players on loan," Cooper added.

Hopefully he will give us the lift to keep us in the league
Tamworth boss Mark Cooper

"We have got on well and when Walsall made him redundant I offered him the chance to come and play here.

"There were some big clubs interested in him and it has not been a money thing for him in coming to us.

"He was looking for somewhere without too much travelling and where there was a bit more trust."

A groin injury restricted Merson to just a handful of games for Walsall this season, with his last appearance for the Saddlers coming in December.

Cooper added: "Hopefully he will give us the lift to keep us in the league. It will be a boost for everyone.

"From the chairman's point of view, hopefully it will get a few more people in through the gate. If it doesn't there is something wrong.

"But primarily he is coming to help keep us in the league. It doesn't guarantee it as everyone else has to do their bit, but it should go a long way to doing that."

Merson, a former league and FA Cup winner from over a decade spent with Arsenal, won 31 international caps.

He also played in the Premiership with Middlesbrough, Aston Villa and Portsmouth before moving to Walsall in July 2003.

He is now in line to make his Conference bow against Halifax Town at the Lamb on Saturday.

Merson swamped by playing offers
12 Feb 06 |  Football


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