SUNDERLAND pushed hard to sign a striker before the January transfer window deadline yesterday.
But hours before the 11pm finish, the club had pretty much accepted they would not be bolstering their forward line.
The chief target had been Kevin Davies and with a swarm of rival clubs looking to offer the best loan deals they could, Sunderland thought their offer of a permanent move for the player and a significant fee for Bolton would be enough to win the race.
The 34-year-old is out of contract this summer, meaning that unless Wanderers offer him a new contract the club will miss out on any transfer fee; Davies, for his part, could have earned himself a fresh start and a chance of regular first-team football.
But when Sunderland heard that Davies’s agent was rumoured to be using the interest to try to earn the striker a new deal at the Reebok, they began to suspect they were simply being used as leverage.
Other forwards were on the radar for loan moves, including West Ham’s Frederic Picquionne and several players from abroad, but, in the end, Sunderland could not strike a deal they regarded as realistic and chose instead to soldier on with the forwards already at the club.
Aston Villa’s Emile Heskey and Spurs’ Roman Pavlyuchenko were never under consideration yesterday, despite claims to the contrary.