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FOOTBALL: Keegan moves for Ince; EXCLUSIVE.

Byline: ALAN NIXON

MANCHESTER CITY boss Kevin Keegan is lining up a shock move for Middlesbrough skipper Paul Ince - another former Manchester United player.

Keegan has short-listed Ince, a free agent this summer, to boost City's midfield for their return to the Premiership.

Ince would be a controversial capture as his Old Trafford links are so strong and the City interest in him follows on the signing of Peter Schmeichel and a bid for Jaap Stam.

City fans would be grumbling next season if the United old boys struggled but Keegan - never afraid to back his own judgment - is 'seriously considering' the Ince deal.

Ince has been back near his best form this season for Boro, despite often being linked with moves away from The Riverside before his contract ran out. The former England star, who has a house on the Wirral, would fancy the Maine Road challenge.

He has been linked with Wolves, Rangers and even a return to Italy this summer, but City provide an ideal option.

Although Ince has been offered a deal to stay at Middlesbrough, he has revealed to friends he has 'a chance to go back to the north-west' and is hopeful the move will come off.

Keegan knows Ince well, he was in his England squads, and he has the type of strong mentality City will need in the top flight next season.

The United connection will not worry Ince, a strong character who did not part on the best of terms with Old Trafford boss Sir Alex Ferguson.

Keegan has a long and star-studded summer shopping list and could end up by bringing in up to six new players. His midfield targets include Stefan Effenberg of Bayern Munich, Ipswich's Matt Holland and Juventus's Edgar Davids.

CAPTION(S):

INCE: City target
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 17, 2002
Words:298
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