MANCHESTER City defender Wayne Bridge was expected to complete a move to Sunderland today ... but the arrival of Bolton striker Kevin Davies at the Stadium of Light hangs very much in the balance.
Former England international Bridge was due at the Academy of Light this afternoon for a medical ahead of completing a loan deal which would take the 31-year-old up to the end of the current season.
Sunderland’s interest in the ex-Southampton and Chelsea defender has arrived suddenly, Martin O’Neill acting swiftly after a weekend which saw Wes Brown added to a list of defensive injuries which includes Titus Bramble and Matt Kilgallon, with Michael Turner only just returning to first-team action.
Bridge has not played first-team football since being involved in a Carling Cup tie in September, but he offers great experience and as soon as he is up to speed in terms of fitness, he would free up the likes of Jack Colback and Kieran Richardson to fill in other roles in the side.
Championship side Reading had shown an interest in Bridge this month but could not agree a deal.
Meanwhile, Sunderland’s pursuit of Bolton hitman Kevin Davies is set to go all the way to the wire tonight with O’Neill insisting he won’t be held to ransom over the signing of the 34-year-old.
Although now past his best, Davies would bring a host of qualities to the Sunderland front-line which would benefit the whole of the team. O’Neill has recognised those qualities with a £1.5m bid for a player who will turn 35 in March.
The Trotters have rejected that offer and may yet offer the player a new deal. O’Neill also has interest in strikers Hugo Almeida (Besiktas) and Valencia’s Aritz Aduriz.
Asked if the knock picked up by Connor Wickham in Sunday’s FA Cup tie against Middlesbrough would play into Bolton’s hands, O’Neill said: “That is the point, and it is always the same with these things.
“But you’d be hoping you wouldn’t have to pay over the odds for someone who is 34, has given really decent service to Bolton and is not playing regularly at the moment. We have made a bid and Bolton have rejected it, so we will see what happens next.
“We need to agree something with Bolton and, at the moment, we seem to be a bit apart.”
O’Neill claimed, going into the transfer window, that he would be happy to continue with the squad he already has but a rash of injuries has forced a rethink.
Knocks to defender Wes Brown (knee) and midfielders David Vaughan (foot) and Lee Cattermole (hamstring) over the past few days alone have added to the need to reinforce the squad and it’s possible that Sunderland could bring in two, three or even four players before the transfer window’s 11pm deadline tonight.
The Black Cats have also been linked with Stoke City centre-half Matthew Upson, another veteran whose first-team involvement this season has been sporadic but this morning he was not a name Sunderland were considering.
A surprise option could also be the return of Sunderland’s former club captain Bolo Zenden, who is a free agent and keen to return to football now that his girlfriend has given birth – although the fact he has no contract with a club would mean that he could join at any stage of the campaign and is not limited to the transfer window.
Regardless of that, O’Neill will have his hands full today juggling preparations for Norwich City’s visit to the Stadium of Light tomorrow with co-ordinating the club’s activity.
And the manager admitted: “It’s not ideal when you have a game the day after deadline day – and in fact, we were originally due to play the Norwich game tonight! – but I’ve been aware that this would be the situation.”