O’Neill to step up transfer pursuits

Martin O'Neill
Martin O'Neill
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Martin O’Neill today confirmed he has made several enquiries for Sunderland’s transfer targets and hopes to make good progress to completing new signings, writes Chris Young.

Sunderland will have just one fresh face in the party that heads to South Korea on Monday for the Peace Cup, with Bosman signing Carlos Cuellar O’Neill’s sole acquisition so far this summer.

But the Black Cats boss remains firmly in the hunt for further recruits and has approached “one or two” other clubs over the availability of their players.

Although O’Neill declined to identify those transfer targets, the Sunderland boss is keen to step up the pursuit for the players at the top of his wishlist.

O’Neill told the Echo: “I have made one or two enquiries, but I have not progressed anything greatly at this moment. That’s the best way of saying it.

“It’s early. We’ve just been back a day or two and I’ve got a couple of things floating around in my mind.

“I haven’t done anything definite. I’ve made the enquiries and said to people, keep us informed. But now I will start to develop things a bit more.

“I am hoping the players that I’m interested in will be attracting the interest of other teams as well. If there’s nobody interested in them, then you worry!

“There’s players who I would certainly be prioritising and those are the ones I would genuinely like to get, if at all possible. But I haven’t narrowed it down to an extent when I’m not thinking of other options.”

O’Neill has a reputation for leaving things late in the transfer window and waited until deadline day in January before bringing in loan signings Wayne Bridge and Sotirios Kyrgiakos.

But he is eager for the basis of Sunderland’s squad to be in place before the Premier League curtain-raiser at Arsenal five weeks today, and will continue his pursuit of players while the Wearsiders are in Korea.

“We’re going away to Korea and in this day and age you can still do loads of things by email or by phone,” said O’Neill.

“I know there’s a transfer window at the end of August and at Aston Villa I brought in two centre-halves – James Collins and Richard Dunne – a couple of days before the deadline. But we’d been dealing with those for a while.

“Ideally, it would be great to have everyone in place before we kicked off the season.”

O’Neill added that he expects the sluggish transfer market to liven up, with clubs back in pre-season training and the summer’s European Championships at an end.

“It hasn’t surprised me that it’s been quiet,” he said. “People have been tuned in to watching the European Championships and therefore managers who might have one or two thoughts in their head would probably wait until they’re over and get back to pre-season. Most of us are still thinking the same.

“But obviously I’d like to improve the quality of the squad.”