BRIAN Kidd has beaten off the challenge from a host of top clubs to persuade 17-year-old midfielder Burton O'Brien and full back David McNamee, 18, to join his Blackburn Rovers revolution.

But one or both of them could yet continue playing for St Mirren until the end of the season in a sensible loan agreement to give the players senior football.

Two complex deals were finally wrapped up last night for the Scottish First Division club's highly-prized potential stars and it could result in Rovers paying a total of £1.3 million each for the teenagers.

But Ewood chief executive John Williams said today: "I will be highly delighted if that is the case, as it will mean they have both established themselves in the Premiership."

Rovers have pipped clubs like Manchester United, Leeds, Rangers and Celtic, who were all monitoring the situation.

And Kidd, who clearly sees them as a key part of his plans for the future, said: "We have been watching both these lads for some time and we were aware of their growing reputation and the interest of other Premier League clubs.

"So we had to move quickly and I am delighted." Williams revealed that Rovers had paid an initial fee of £300,000 each for the youngsters and the other £1 million apiece is based around future appearances.

Suffice to say that, if they eventually have to hand over a total of £2.6 million for the pair they will have played enough games to prove themselves and Rovers will consider the price cheap.

Both have signed five and a half year contracts, taking them through to 2004.

O'Brien, nicknamed "Bo-Bo", is rated one of Scottish football's most precocious talents at just 17, while McNamee has held down a regular first team place with Saints at 18.

The chief executive added that, subject to the regulations, Rovers had agreed in principle they could stay at St Mirren on extended loan until the end of the season but the details of that arrangement have still to be ironed out.

Rovers were today linked with a £4m move for West Ham midfield man Steve Lomas.

Converted for the new archive on 14 July 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.