SUNDERLAND today rubbished claims that Liverpool have made a big money bid to prise skipper Lee Cattermole away from the Stadium of Light.
Reports this morning suggested Liverpool had tabled a formal offer for the Sunderland midfielder, rumoured to be in the region of £10million.
But Sunderland have categorically denied they have received a bid and would notcontemplate selling one of their prize assets anyway.
Neither has there been an offer from Merseyside for Cattermole’s fellow midfielder Jordan Henderson, despite several reports in the national media suggesting the 20-year-old is on the verge of a move to Anfield.
Liverpool were linked with Cattermole last summer – a story which Bruce rubbished at the time – and the rumours have resurfaced again over the last fortnight.
That has been despite Cattermole missing three months of the season with a stress fracture of the back and then being sidelined for the final three games of the campaign when the problem resurfaced.
The 23-year-old will undergo a scan on his back next week and his focus remains on completing his first full pre-season with Sunderland rather than looking to leave Wearside.
Even though Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish is on the lookout for several new recruits, signing a player like Cattermole in a big-money move would represent a major risk anyway with the former Middlesbrough man plagued by injuries over the last two years.
Sunderland will resist any attempts to weaken their squad, particularly with Steve Bruce’s options looking thin for the start of pre-season due to injuries and the departure of the club’s loan players.
The club accept there will inevitably be interest among the Premier League’s top six for Henderson, as there has been for the past 12 months.
But the Black Cats are not considering offloading the prize graduate of the club’s academy and it would take a massive bid for them to even contemplate selling.
Liverpool themselves have denied making an offer for Henderson and realise it would take more than the rumoured £13m to land the England international.
Sunderland would not consider selling for anything less than £20m and are not encouraging talk of selling Henderson either.
Bruce’s focus remains on recruitment, although the Sunderland boss may have suffered a setback in his pursuit of out-of-contract Blackpool midfielder David Vaughan.
West Brom have emerged as the favourites to sign the Welsh international, who has held talks with Sunderland and Rangers.
The 28-year-old is reportedly keen to stay close to his home in north Wales and a move to the Hawthorns holds obvious appeal.
But it would not represent a massive blow to Bruce, with Vaughan not among the Sunderland manager’s top three Bosman targets.