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West Brom play waiting game as QPR join Long list

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Shane Long has stated he is happy at West Bromwich Albion

Shane Long has stated he is happy at West Bromwich Albion

Shane Long has stated he is happy at West Bromwich Albion

QPR have become the eighth club to express interest in Irish international striker Shane Long -- whose new year promises to bring continued speculation about a move to a new club.

With the queue of potential buyers rapidly increasing, Long's future with West Brom appears uncertain, not least because only four months have passed since the club agreed to sell him for £6.5m to Hull City.

Yet, the chances of Long staying at the Hawthorns beyond January are greater than the possibility of him leaving. QPR, along with Nottingham Forest and Hull, may be prepared to meet the club's asking price and the player's wage demands, but any prospective buyer needs a willing seller.

As of now, Albion are keeping their 'For Sale' sign hidden away. Instead, the Baggies are planning to offer Long a new three-year-contract worth £25,000 per week -- £15,000 shy of what the 26-year-old could earn at either QPR or Forest.

Should Long reject their proposal, then Albion have no qualms about allowing the remaining six months of his contract to run out -- prior to invoking the clause which allows them retain Long for one further season.

And while the aborted business with Hull last August proved how attracted they were to an incoming £6.5m cheque, the ongoing Nicolas Anelka controversy -- combined with their precarious league position -- has left Albion's chief negotiator, sports and technical director Richard Garlick, with the belief that selling now would be the wrong option.

West Brom aren't the only club reluctant to carry out any business in January, with Wolves, their nearest neighbours, declaring yesterday that under no circumstances would Kevin Doyle be sold in this transfer window.

"I'm looking to add to our strikeforce -- not take away from it," said manager Kenny Jackett. "Kevin is an important player for us."

Not important enough, however, to warrant a start for Wolves in their last two games. And, with Kevin Phillips on his way into the club from Crystal Palace, opportunities for Doyle at Molineux may decrease further.

Meanwhile, QPR are putting together a £3.5m package in the hope of persuading Sean Murray, the talented Irish U-21 international midfielder, to move from Watford to Loftus Road.

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The 20-year-old has been an unqualified success for Watford this season and has been identified by QPR's scouting network as one of their chief targets along with Long.

So with the transfer window opening today, here is the state of play regarding the five Irish players likeliest to move in January.

SHANE LONG

Contract situation: Out at the end of this season, but WBA have an option to extend it by 12 months

Salary: Long is on £20,000 a week at West Brom and knows he can double his money elsewhere. Notorious hagglers, West Brom are prepared to offer new three-year deal worth £25,000 a week, and will insist on extra one-year option in their favour. Long commands a £6.5m transfer fee.

Who is interested? There are varying levels of interest from eight clubs. Some, like Tottenham, have made polite enquiries whereas others -- Nottingham Forest and QPR -- are prepared to do business right away.

The safest bet is on him staying at West Brom for the rest of this season but Hull, Everton, Newcastle, Norwich and Aston Villa are also keeping an eye on the situation.

Deal or no deal: likelihood of a January move? *** (out of five)

DAVID FORDE

Contract situation: Up at the end of this season.

Salary: As a 33-year-old goalkeeper with no Premier League experience, Forde's potential income is at the lower end of the pay scale, although Celtic are prepared to offer him a three-year contract worth £15,000 per week.

Who is interested? Celtic are the most likely to move for Forde but will only do so if Fraser Forster is sold. That is likelier to happen next summer. In any case, Millwall are prepared to allow Forde see out his contract in the hope he can keep them in the Championship.

Deal or no deal: **

AIDEN MCGEADY

Contract situation: Up at the end of this season.

Salary: McGeady is on the verge of agreeing a pre-contractual deal worth £45,000 a week with Everton. However, the club would be prepared to give a £500,000 fee now if Spartak Moscow wanted an immediate sale.

Who is interested? Everton believe they have this deal effectively closed but Newcastle, Hull and Aston Villa are alternative options for the winger.

Deal or no deal: ****

SEAN MURRAY

Contract situation: Tied to Watford until May 2017.

Salary: QPR are prepared to offer Murray £15,000 a week.

Who is interested? QPR are the prime movers for the 20-year-old midfielder.

Deal or no deal: ***


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