MARTIN O’NEILL insists he has had no contact with basement boys QPR over a January move for Sunderland defender Titus Bramble.
QPR have been linked with a cut-price switch for Bramble throughout the transfer window and it is understood there is genuine interest from boss Harry Redknapp.
Bramble is in the final six months of his contract at the Stadium of Light and is expected to leave the club on a free transfer in the summer.
The 31-year-old, also a target for former club Ipswich Town, has started Sunderland’s last four games, but a series of injury problems over the past two years will almost certainly prompt the Black Cats to release the centre-half along with fellow defender Matt Kilgallon.
But Bramble is unlikely to leave Wearside before next Thursday’s transfer deadline, with O’Neill claiming there have been no discussions with QPR.
“I don’t know anything about Titus going to QPR,” said O’Neill.
“It’s only speculation and no-one has spoken to me about it.”
O’Neill can barely afford to lose Bramble’s services despite boosting his central defensive options with the capture of on-loan Senegalese international Kader Mangane.
Wes Brown remains a long-term casualty, Carlos Cuellar is currently on the treatment table and stand-in skipper John O’Shea has suffered a series of niggling injuries in his 18 months at the Stadium of Light.
Although O’Neill allowed Fraizer Campbell to join Cardiff City this week and agreed to cancel the remaining six months of Louis Saha’s contract – with the French striker in talks with South African outfit Bidvest Wits – there are unlikely to be further departures before January 31.
O’Neill’s focus is on further boosting his options for the rest of the campaign after bringing in Mangane and France Under-21 midfielder Alfred N’Diaye.
Danny Graham remains Sunderland’s number one target and after Swansea’s Capital One Cup semi-final against Chelsea last night, there is a window of opportunity to agree a deal before the two clubs meet at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday.
Like Sunderland, Norwich City have submitted a bid for Graham, but the Black Cats are understood to be front-runners in landing the Gateshead-born frontman in a £5million switch.
But the deal is likely to drag on until the final throws of the window, as it continues to hinge on whether Swansea can land Stoke’s former Sunderland striker Kenwyne Jones as a replacement for Graham.
Sunderland have also been linked with a renewed interest in Republic of Ireland winger Aiden McGeady, as have Wigan.
Reports in Russia suggest McGeady, who played under O’Neill at Celtic, is unlikely to sign a new deal at Spartak Moscow, with 18 months remaining on his contract.
McGeady was on Sunderland’s radar during the summer and the Black Cats are rumoured to be tracking the 26-year-old again, along with Premier League rivals Wigan.
But McGeady’s chances of moving to the Stadium of Light will again depend on the fee after Spartak were looking for a figure around the £10m mark during the summer.