SAINTS manager Dave Jones was today hoping to sort out personal terms with centre-back David Wetherall after agreeing a £2 million fee with Leeds.

If the deal goes through it will equal the Southampton club record transfer fee paid for David Hirst 18 months ago. But the move now hinges on the player who is said to be keen to sign following the collapse of his proposed move to Huddersfield.

The First Division side had settled a similar fee and agreed wages when the 28-year-old defender lowered his initial demands in favour of first-team football in his native Yorkshire.

But when the Terriers stalled, Jones nipped in quickly and the lure of continued Premiership football is likely to tempt the 6ft 3in stopper south.

Jones said: "I am really surprised no-one else has come in for him and it would be quite a coup if we can get him.

"He is big and strong, he scores goals, he's a good defender and a leader. And he's not afraid to put his head in and get hurt for the cause.

"It is now a question of getting the lad down and talking to him. The chairman is away at the moment but he is contactable so hopefully we can push the deal through later this week."

The Sheffield-born former England Schools international began his career with Sheffield Wednesday but blossomed following a £125,000 move to Leeds eight years ago.

However, this season he found him-self edged out first by Robert Molenaar and then by the emerging Jonathan Woodgate. Now he is looking to re-launch his career.

His agent Hayden Evans has hinted that wages are likely to be less of a stumbling block than the prospect of uprooting his family to move so far. But Jones remains optimistic. He added: "We thought the geography might be a problem but I gather he is really interested in coming here. He has had good reports about the club and is keen to talk to us."

Jones checked out Swedish centre-back Andreas Jakobsson of Helsingborg at the weekend but has decided not to press ahead with a bid.

The 26-year-old has won nine caps for Sweden and was in the squad for the recent Euro 2000 qualifier against England at Wembley but was left off the bench by coach Tommy Soderberg.

Jones has denied reports that he is lin-ing up a bid for Ipswich midfielder Matt Holland then countered the next rumour, saying: "Brett Angell is coming to see me for a social visit this week. But that is all it is - I am not signing him."

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