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SUNDERLAND made half-a-dozen new signings yesterday on the busiest transfer day in the club's history.


But the one signing which has captured the imagination more than the other five put together is that of ex-Manchester United marksman Dwight Yorke.

The Trinidad and Tobago striker may be 34 now and have lost the pace which once made him a world class goalscorer.

But he remains a figure of world renown and for Sunderland fans starved in recent years of star names, Yorke's is a name that they can wear with pride on their shirts.

Nor will he be trading on former glories either, Yorke has been the star player in Australia's A league with Sydney FC and the club's manager Terry Butcher admitted he's 'our marquee player', recognising his star quality and big game temperament.

The signing of Yorke had all the more impact because it was such an unexpected approach.

The ex-Villa and Man United frontman had dropped off the radar since joining Sydney last July but new Sunderland boss Roy Keane had not forgotten about his former team-mate.

And he was also aware that while Yorke wasn't unhappy Down Under, he had admitted that he missed the competitiveness and sense of importance of fixtures in the English game.

The English game had largely forgotten about the player, despite his appearances for Trinidad and Tobago in this summer's World Cup.

So it was a major surprise when news broke yesterday that the club were pursuing the player from across the globe.

And it has been a superb bit of business to get a talismanic figure such as Yorke for just £200,000.

Keane will believe he can have the same sort of inspirational influence on the Sunderland dressing room as Niall Quinn had hoped Kevin Phillips would have had, had he been able to return to Wearside.

What remains to be seen is where Yorke will be deployed in the Sunderland set-up.

He was a prolific striker, for Manchester United in particular, scoring 47 goals in 96 appearances betwen 1998 and 2002.

But in recent seasons he has proven himself a more than capable central midfielder with the ability to win the ball and set up attacks.

With Sunderland having bought two central midfielders yesterday though in the shape of Graham Kavanagh and Liam Miller, adding to the likes of Dean Whitehead, Arnau and Grant Leadbitter, the temptation may be to ask him to play up front again.

Yorke's paciest days are long behind him but facing Championship defences is not the same as taking on Champions League rearguards and the new signing might show that his greatest gift to Sunderland will be the goals that will lift them up the league table.