Olsson may fit the bill for Sunderland’s Martin O’Neill

Martin Olsson.
Martin Olsson.
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SUNDERLAND are tracking Blackburn Rovers left-back Martin Olsson, who is desperate to leave Ewood Park before the start of the new season.

The Swede officially handed in a transfer request yesterday after becoming frustrated with efforts to leave the club, who were relegated from the Premier League in May.

And his agent, former Sweden striker Martin Dahlin, confirmed: “It is true that Martin has submitted a transfer request. Of course, he would not play in the Championship.”

Southampton, West Ham and Stoke are also rumoured to be interested in the 24-year-old and one of the four clubs has submitted a formal £1.5m bid for the player.

Blackburn have rejected that though and are seeking closer to £4m for a player who has three years remaining on his contract.

Olsson fits much more easily into O’Neill’s blueprint for Sunderland’s future than Aston Villa full-back Stephen Warnock, who was linked with the Wearsiders in several national newspapers.

The Swede is young, quick and a full international, having played in all of Sweden’s games in the European Championships.

And, coming from a newly-relegated club, Sunderland would hope to get him for a relatively inexpensive fee, if Blackburn eventually become more realistic in their transfer demands.

H Sunderland will visit Swedish champions Helsingborg next Saturday, August 4.

It is the last friendly to be announced. Boss Martin O’Neill told the Echo: “It’s a good fixture for us. I think they are a little bit further ahead of us in terms of fitness and it’s exactly the sort of test we want.”