SUNDERLAND have cooled their interest in Liverpool striker David Ngog after snapping up England Under-21 star Connor Wickham.
The French forward had been a target for the Black Cats at the start of the close season when a move to Sunderland would have been smoothed by Jordan Henderson’s £19.25m Anfield switch.
With talks proceeding for the sale of Sunderland’s star midfielder, it would have been a simple matter to include Ngog (pictured, below) as part of the deal.
But despite a £3m fee being agreed between the two clubs the deal was not pushed through because the player’s representatives wanted to take things at a slower pace.
And now Ngog has missed out on the chance to kick-start his stalling career at the Stadium of Light, with the arrival of Wickham changing the picture at Sunderland.
The Black Cats went into the summer desperately in need of reinforcements in attack with Asamoah Gyan their only fit first-team striker.
But the acquisition of Wickham and the signing today of South Korean international Ji Dong-won has significantly improved the situation.
Both new signings offer the height which Ngog would have brought to the front-line and with Stephane Sessegnon and Kieran Richardson having proved last season they can do a job up front, the need for Ngog has gone.
Manager Steve Bruce has still not given up hope that Danny Welbeck could be returning to the Stadium of Light for a second season on loan – something the England Under 21 man would welcome if he is not to become a real part of Sir Alex Ferguson’s first-team plans next season.
But Sunderland are only likely to find out if that is an option at the start of next season when Ferguson assesses his options up front after a summer rebuilding at Old Trafford.
As things stand, Sunderland now have three strikers to call on, two players who can step in if necessary, and Welbeck still a possibility.
Even if Welbeck doesn’t come, there is still the option of a fourth striker being signed before the window closes as clubs jockey for position in the last few days and some players are unexpectedly made available at knockdown prices.