TOWN today agreed a two-year contract with World Cup defender Efe Sodje.
The versatile 30-year-old - famous for the brightly-coloured bandanas he wears on the pitch - has been at Crewe for the last three years but now becomes a major addition to Peter Jackson's Third Division squad.
The 6ft 1in Londoner, who played for Nigeria in the Japan/South Korea World Cup last year, will not train at Storthes Hall until Town's emergence from administration is confirmed.
At the moment, he will not be considered for Saturday's friendly against Wrexham at the Racecourse Ground, either, although that could change if prospective club owner Ken Davy succeeds in securing agreement with the Football League in the next few days over Town's licence for the new season.
Should that happen, Sodje - whose brother, Bright, is a well-known rugby league player - is a certain starter when the League campaign gets under way the following week against Cambridge at the McAlpine.
Jackson, who is still in talks with Sheffield United's Steve Yates about a two-year McAlpine deal, believes Sodje will prove a big hit with Town fans.
"Efe is so keen to get going with us that he's already having some blue and white bandanas made to wear during the season," said Jackson, who watched the Reserves win 2-0 at Farsley on Saturday.
"I have said all along that I wanted to bring in an experienced defender and Efe certainly fits the bill. He is big and strong, his pace is excellent and you can't really have better experience than playing in a World Cup.
"Considering he is dropping down two divisions to join us, I think he's an excellent signing for this club and I'm sure he'll be a big favourite with the fans."
Sodje - whose full Christian name is Efetobore - began his career at Stevenage but made his League breakthrough after a £30,000 move to Macclesfield in August 1997.
He played 91 times for the Moss Rose club, scoring seven goals, in a two-year stay before joining Luton on a free.
He spent 11 months at Kenilworth Road, playing just 14 times, but he earned a surprise call-up for the Nigeria squad for the 2000 African Cup of Nations.
Sodje made his international debut in that tournament - he now has nine caps - and after a loan spell with Colchester he was snapped up on a free for Crewe by long-serving manager Dario Gradi. He became a popular figure at the Alexandra Stadium, where he still has a year of his contract to run, and he played against both Argentina and England in the World Cup before missing out against Sweden as Nigeria failed to qualify for the knockout stages.
"Efe can't sign officially until we know the club is saved, so it's the same arrangement as we've made with the other signings - a statement of intent," said Jackson.
"As soon as everything is sorted out at this end, Efe will sign and he'll be a key player for us, I have no doubt about that. I'm still waiting for an answer from Steve Yates about the contract offer to him, but otherwise things are going well and I'm pleased with what I'm seeing from the lads with less than a fortnight to kick-off."
Physio Lee Martin was today assessing an ankle injury suffered by Paul Scott at Throstle Nest on Saturday. Scott scored the first goal and had been carried off on a stretcher by the time John McAliskey added the second goal against Lee Sinnott's side.