CELTIC defender Efe Ambrose is NOT on Sunderland’s radar after Martin O’Neill insisted he was in the dark over reports linking the Black Cats with the Nigerian international.
Sunderland, along with Liverpool and Swansea, were credited with an interest in Ambrose earlier this week despite the 24-year-old enduring a torrid time in last week’s 3-0 Champions League defeat to Juventus.
But O’Neill says he has had no discussions with Celtic boss Neil Lennon, and has given no indication that he intends to make a move for Ambrose.
“It’s been news to me. I’ve not spoken to Neil Lennon about Ambrose,” said the Sunderland manager.
Lennon, O’Neill’s former skipper at Leicester and Celtic, gave fuel to the reports by claiming he was aware of interest in the centre-half from the Premier League.
Although Ambrose was at fault for two of Juventus’s goals at Parkhead and spurned a glorious opportunity to equalise in the first leg of the last 16 encounter, he has impressed in the SPL.
After arriving for £1.5million from Israeli side Ashdod during the summer, Ambrose has made 28 appearances for the Hoops and helped Nigeria lift the African Cup of Nations earlier this month.
Lennon said: “Overall, he’s been brilliant for us and there’s been a lot of interest in him. Not just in England, but interest on the continent as well.
“I don’t think we’ll lose him in the summer as he’s just in the door and there’s more he can add to his game. But he has got a few admirers out there with his performances this season.
“There’s been nothing concrete, but I’ve been made aware of it, put it that way. There is definite interest from top teams in different countries. He’s been a great signing for us.”
Neither is O’Neill thought to have spoken with Lennon about Scotland winger James Forrest, who has also been linked to the Black Cats.
Meanwhile, former Sunderland midfielder Alex Rae has been appointed assistant manager to Paul Ince at Blackpool.
Rae, who worked under Ince at both Notts County and MK Dons, had been working as chief scout for the latter.
Ince said: “He’s got a vast amount of experience and knowledge in the game, and hopefully he can pass that onto the players.”
Ince is hopeful of making one more addition to his backroom team, believed to be ex-Sunderland boss Ricky Sbragia.