Keane call in the 'air force'

SUNDERLAND are weighing up a move for Danish international defender Michael Gravgaard.

The centre-back was a 2.5million target of West Ham in January, but his club FC Copenhagen rejected the bid.

Gravgaard was also linked with Newcastle, but Copenhagen were determined to hold on to the 29-year-old – nicknamed "Copenhagen Air Force" because of his strength at headers.

The defender's aerial ability made him an instant hit with Denmark as he netted three goals in his first five internationals – including a debut header in the 4-1 rout of England in August 2005.

A qualified accountant, Gravgaard played a big part in Copenhagen's 1-0 Champions League triumph over Manchester United in November.

He was first linked with a possible move to England 18 months ago, when Aston Villa were reported to be keen, an indicated that the Premiership would interest him.

Gravgaard was most recently in the news when he stepped in to protect referee Herbert Fandel, who was attacked by a Denmark fan during a clash with Sweden in Copenhagen on June 2.

The supporter turned on Fandel after the German official awarded Sweden a last-minute penalty and the attack led to the game being abandoned, with a UEFA panel subsequently handing Sweden a 3-0 win.

Sunderland boss Roy Keane has been linked with a succession of defenders this summer, including West Brom pair Paul McShane and Paul Robinson, Wigan's Leighton Baines, Fulham's Zat Knight and Blackburn's Andy Todd.

The Black Cats' only summer signings so far have been defenders – 3m right-back Greg Halford from Reading and 1m Aberdeen and Scotland centre-back Russell Anderson.

One of the latest names to be thrown up was 2006 Estonian Player of the Year Raio Piiroja, who plays for Frederikstad in Norway, but the Echo understands Keane has not shown an interest.

Meanwhile, Keane's former Manchester United team-mate Raimond van der Gouw could be set to join Sunderland as goalkeeping coach.

The 44-year-old has just ended his playing career with Dutch Second Division side Apeldoorn and is said to have agreed a contract at the Stadium of Light.

Udinese goalkeeper Morgan de Sanctis, 30, is the latest goalkeeper to be linked with Sunderland.