SUNDERLAND boss Steve Bruce admits he was interested in signing Andy Carroll when he was manager of Wigan – but, at £4.5million, the striker’s valuation at the time was too pricey for Athletic!
Wigan’s loss has proved to be Liverpool’s gain, though the Reds did admittedly have to hand over £35m to secure the ex-Newcastle United targetman’s services in January.
Carroll has caused problems for Bruce’s teams, both as manager of Wigan and of Sunderland, and the Black Cats’ boss acknowledged that, at one stage, he was looking to take the thorn out of his side and put it in his squad.
“When I was manager of Wigan he came on against us and played well, really well,” he said.
“We were hammering Newcastle 2-0 on Boxing Day in 2008 and Andy came on and won them a penalty with two minutes to go.
“On the Monday morning, I rang up the manager at the time Joe Kinnear and I said to him: ‘Would you sell me Andy?’ and they quoted me £4.5m.
“To be honest, I seriously thought about it, however’ in the end’ we could only go to £2.5m.
“I had Emile Heskey at the time and I did wonder if Heskey and Carroll would work.
“So Andy Carroll could quite easily have ended up being my player.”
Carroll terrorised Sunderland when the Wearsiders were hammered 5-1 at St James’s Park this season and Sunderland fans breathed a sigh of relief when injury ruled him out of January’s return fixture at the Stadium of Light.
The big striker was still carrying that injury, a bad thigh strain, when he joined Liverpool.
But he is in line for his full debut for Liverpool at the Stadium of Light this Sunday (1.30pm) and Bruce is certain that Kenny Dalglish will want to involve the striker who has already caused the Wearsiders real problems this season.
“I’m sure Andy will make his full Premier League debut for Liverpool against us,” said Bruce.
“That will present a challenge both to him and to us.
“On their day, big lads are very, very difficult.
“The thing about Andy is that he can jump.
“He’s got this great balance which allows him to jump and compete.
“Let’s be fair, that’s why Kenny has bid £35m. He’s is different to anything else out there.
“He is a throwback to the good old days when I used to play against the likes of Joe Jordan.
“He is that sort of throwback to the old British number nine and it will be interesting to see how he does, how he manages himself and how he plays for Liverpool.”
H Barcelona and France defender Eric Abidal, 31, will undergo surgery on a liver tumour on Friday.