MARTIN O’NEILL insists Sunderland’s players should regard any loan exits as an “opportunity” as he considers further departures among his fringe players.
Ahmed Elmohamady, Craig Lynch and Ben Wilson are all in the midst of loan moves to the Football League and will not be the last to leave the Stadium of Light on a temporary basis this season.
Opposition scouts – including representatives from Hartlepool, Carlisle, Gateshead and Middlesbrough – were abundant at Sunderland under-21s’ goalless draw against Manchester United last night, with several of the Black Cats’ youngsters in demand.
But O’Neill says any players sent down the football pyramid must use the move as a springboard, rather than being left disenchanted.
Sunderland are themselves proof of the benefits of the loan system after the likes of Danny Welbeck and Jonny Evans improved their chances with their parent club, while the same could apply to left-back Danny Rose this season.
“In the past going out on loan might have had a stigma to it, now that’s far from the case,” said O’Neill.
“We’ve taken Danny on loan here and had he been down at Spurs he wouldn’t have been in their starting line-up, so it’s a great opportunity for him.
“That should be the way the players look at it.”
He added: “I’m all for loaning players out. We don’t have a massive squad but I could stagger those loans so you don’t have a big group out at the same time.”
Sunderland’s strikers are particularly in demand, with Connor Wickham still a target for Championship duo Ipswich and Burnley.
Hull and Huddersfield would be interested in Fraizer Campbell if he became available for loan, although O’Neill has insisted he wants the 25-year-old to challenge for a first-team spot.
But Wolves are NOT among the teams chasing Campbell, despite reports that the Molineux outfit were leading the chase for the England international.
Ryan Noble, restricted to a late substitute’s role for the U21s last night, is another being coveted, with Hartlepool United still harbouring hopes of re-signing the striker, who spent the final two months of last season at Victoria Park.
O’Neill added: “In the case of Ryan Noble, it’s something I’d consider. He looks like he needs a proper chance to go and play.
“We’ve taken on a couple of centre-forwards and it could be a chance. We will see.”