Hands off my strikers, urges Poyet

Connor Wickham (right) battles West Brom goalscorer Saido Berahino
Connor Wickham (right) battles West Brom goalscorer Saido Berahino
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GUS POYET insists Sunderland will NOT welcome any bids for strikers Steven Fletcher and Connor Wickham over the final fortnight of the transfer window.

Fletcher and Wickham completed 90 minutes in Sunderland’s opening day draw at West Brom on Saturday, yet the pair have both been the subject of transfer speculation.

Hull City are reported to be interested in signing Fletcher – following the £12million sale of frontman Shane Long – after the Tigers saw an approach rejected by Sunderland in the January window.

Crystal Palace, meanwhile, became the latest club to be linked with Wickham yesterday after reports that the managerless Eagles are preparing an £8m move for the 21-year-old.

West Ham saw a couple of bids turned down for Wickham last week and although they have since signed Diafra Sakho from French side Metz, Palace now appear to have taken up the race for the England Under-21 international’s signature.

Despite Wickham entering the final 12 months of his Sunderland contract, the club are keen to tie him to a new deal, with boss Poyet seeing the frontman as a major part of his long-term plans.

And Poyet, who believes the transfer window should shut before the start of the season, has reiterated that he is not looking to offload either of his two frontmen.

“They’re staying!” said Poyet.

“I’m a big believer that we need to stop the transfer window on the last day before we start the season.

“I can go to West Brom and (Saido) Berahino, who scored against us, could be playing for us tomorrow.

“It’s not right. I’m sorry, but it’s not right.

“Sometime you can take a player from a team that is going to be competing with you.

“I don’t like it. But it’s the way it is and we are all the same.

“In the next couple of weeks, as soon as I get a phone call from the chief executive, I don’t want to answer!

“I don’t want any offers.”

While Poyet is hopeful there won’t be any further bids for those in his plans, he realises that it is unrealistic to declare that any player is unsaleable.

The Uruguayan just hopes that Sunderland don’t receive an offer which is too good to turn down in the final throes of the window after experiencing that scenario earlier in his coaching career when he was assistant manager at Spurs.

“When somebody offers money for a player, you cannot stop that,” he added.

“I know it sounds typical, but there are offers that no-one in the world can refuse.

“I’ve been in one of the worst situations when (Dimitar) Berbatov was playing for Spurs, going to Man United.

“To be there with Berba every day and not knowing if it was getting done on the 31st was tough because you need to bring in a replacement.

“If you don’t bring in a replacement and he goes, you’ve got a problem.

“And if you do bring in a replacement and he doesn’t go, you’ve got a problem.”