STEVE Bruce is waiting in the wings to take out-of-favour Sunderland striker Fraizer Campbell to Hull City on loan in January, writes Graeme Anderson.
But everything will depend on whether Sunderland are prepared to let the player go and whether Campbell would be prepared to drop down a division to the Championship.
The 25-year-old was bought by Sunderland from Manchester United for £3.5million in 2009 when Bruce was Black Cats’ boss and the England Under-21 international was tipped for the top.
But the injury-racked forward, now in the last year of his contract at the Stadium of Light, has yet to make a real first-team impact this season after overcoming a serious knee ligament injury sustained in August, 2010 which robbed him of 16 months of his career.
Campbell began this season as back-up striker, along with Louis Saha, to first-choice Steven Fletcher and Stephane Sessegnon.
He started Sunderland’s opening game of the season against Arsenal in August, prior to Fletcher’s signing, but since then has only come on as a late substitute.
Over the last three months, he has played barely 90 minutes in total.
On top of that, fellow striker Connor Wickham’s progress was underlined when he started his first Premier League game against Chelsea last weekend – in the absence of Fletcher – and impressed with his hold-up play, passing and eye for goal.
With Wickham’s emergence and the prospect of reinforcements arriving when the January transfer window re-opens, it is rumoured that O’Neill is prepared to consider interest in Campbell – a striker who has scored only five league goals for Sunderland in 29 starts and 24 substitute appearances.
That would interest Bruce, who remains a big fan of the player who stand-in England manager Stuart Pearce selected for a senior call-up less than a year ago and who probably needs a run of games now, just like his on-loan team-mate David Meyler.
Bruce said today of a striker who made a massive impact when he who was on loan to Hull in their 2007/08 promotion season: “It’s never easy to talk about players when they belong to someone else.
“I took him to Sunderland for a lot of money and, a bit like David Meyler, he’s had a tough time with injuries.
“I’m mindful of how well he did here and I like him, both as a player and a boy.
“If it was possible then we’d certainly have a look at it but I’m not sure it is possible.
“We’ll just have to see how things pan out.”