Hammers pull off triple striker swoop

WEST HAM manager Gianfranco Zola swooped for three forwards on deadline day in a desperate bid to bolster his strike-force for the relegation run-in.

Blackburn’s Benni McCarthy, Middlesbrough’s Mido and little-known Brazilian Ilan all arrived at Upton Park as Zola waited until the last minute to do business. McCarthy, 32, signed a two-and-a-half-year contract after the Hammers agreed a fee thought to be around £2.5m for South Africa’s all-time leading goalscorer.

Mido, 26, has joined West Ham on a four-month loan deal from Middlesbrough, having cut short a temporary switch to Zamalek in his native Egypt. Ilan, 29, is thought to have signed a contract until 2012 after being released early from his deal with French club St Etienne.

McCarthy said he was relieved to complete his protracted transfer, saying: “I am looking forward to making up for lost time and I can’t wait to make my debut.”

Across the capital Fulham boss Roy Hodgson was also busy doing loan deals, as Italy Under-21 striker Stefano Okaka finally completed his move from Roma. Aston Villa full-back Nicky Shorey and Liverpool’s young defender Christopher Buchtmann also arrived, while forward Diomansy Kamara left Craven Cottage for Celtic on loan.

Wigan boss Roberto Martinez followed up the purchase of Crystal Palace prospect Victor Moses with a loan deal for Bolivian striker Marcelo Moreno Martins. The South American has arrived at the DW Stadium on loan until the end of the season.

In the other big transfer of the day, Stoke City finally landed Portsmouth keeper Asmir Begovic on a four-and-a-half year deal for £3.25m.