SUNDERLAND hope West Ham’s promotion at the weekend will seal George McCartney’s move to Upton Park on a permanent basis.
The Black Cats’ left-back, on season-long loan at the Hammers, saw his side through to a 2-1 win over Blackpool in Saturday’s play-off final at Wembley – returning the Londoners to the Premier League after a one-season absence.
And that is expected to trigger a bid by manager Sam Allardyce to take the 31-year-old to the Boleyn Ground full-time.
Sunderland are understood to have a gentleman’s agreement with West Ham that promotion would lead to them taking on a player who has never settled at the Stadium of Light second-time around.
Now Sunderland will wait to see whether West Ham follow through on their initial plan for the defender.
McCartney, a West Ham Player of the Year from a previous spell with the club, will hope he showed in the final that he still has a contribution to make.
It was the Sunderland loanee that Allardyce turned to at Wembley when impressive Blackpool winger Tom Ince was turning the game in the Seasiders’ favour.
Ince had caused the Hammers all sorts of problems throughout the game but McCartney’s arrival as a substitute helped nullify the winger’s threat and West Ham went on to win the match with a late goal.
If West Ham fail to follow up their interest, Sunderland may well look to reach agreement on paying up the remaining year of McCartney’s contract.
He is the last of the big money buys of the Roy Keane era that didn’t work out.
Handed a five-year contract in 2008, McCartney joined a raft of expensively-assembled new signings on massive wages at the Stadium of Light as Keane sought to make the club competitive in the Premier League.
McCartney had started his career at Sunderland in 1998, gradually emerging as a key player before being sold to West Ham upon the club’s relegation in 2006.
But he never made the same impact on his return and was reported never to have wanted to come back from the capital in the first place.
Eventually he fell out of favour completely under Keane’s successor Steve Bruce to the extent that last season he wasn’t even given a squad number, and now both club and player will hope to end McCartney’s miserable and expensive stay on Wearside.
Sunderland will wait too, to see whether a rumoured interest from West Ham in barely-used fringe player Ahmed Elmohamady materialises.
The Egyptian international has tried to make the best of the fact he has had such limited opportunities under new manager Martin O’Neill and has accepted he might have to leaveWearside to further his career.
But he has no intention of dropping down a division and had West Ham not been promoted he would not have been interested.
The Hammers were today also linked with Sunderland left-back Kieran Richardson.
The 27-year-old’s future on Wearside is precarious with just 12 months remaining on his Black Cats contract.
Richardson was at Upton Park as a youngster and would be a cost-effective, proven Premier League addition to Allardyce’s squad.