SUNDERLAND will bid to buy Blackpool striker DJ Campbell if the forward leaves Bloomfield Road this summer.
The Black Cats have been aware for some time that the 29-year-old has a £1m release clause in his contract in the event of the Tangerines’ relegation.
And with the club’s demotion on Sunday being confirmed after a 4-2 defeat to Premier League champions Manchester United, Campbell seems certain to activate it in a bid to stay in the Premier League.
If and when he does so, Sunderland will be first in line for his services as Steve Bruce looks to improve strike options which were reduced over the season to just one fit forward in record signing Asamoah Gyan.
Bruce is on the lookout for “eight or nine” new players this summer – a number which is expected to include three new strikers.
And while Campbell might not be seen as an automatic first choice in the manager’s starting XI, he would be perfect as one of his back-up options.
Campbell scored 13 Premier League goals for Blackpool, placing him sixth in the list of goalscorers for the 2010/11 season – 17-goal Darren Bent being the only Englishman ahead of him.
And the Blackpool forward would represent a minimum risk signing for Sunderland – the price would be right and Sunderland would be getting a proven Premier League striker.
The Black Cats’ problem is likely to be that Campbell has plenty of other admirers in the top flight.
Those clubs will try to lure Campbell through attractive contracts and big wages and it will simply come down to which offer the striker eventually plumps for.
Bruce would not be drawn on his interest in a player still contracted to another club.
But he did tell the Echo: “We are aware of the release clause and there’s no doubt that DJ Campbell has shown this season that he can play in the Premier League.
“I bought him from Brentford when I was at Birmingham City, not just because I liked his speed and ability but because he also had a great desire and attitude.
“He has this tremendous tenacity and while it might have been too soon for him when he was Birmingham, he has subsequently matured into a player who is comfortable in the top flight.”
Bruce and Campbell enjoy a mutual appreciation and that goodwill could be crucial when it comes to the player’s decision on where his future lies.
The striker said earlier this season: “I’ll always be thankful to Steve and have great memories of when he signed me.
“He’s a really good person and a great manager.
“He gave me that big chance in the Premier League so I’ve got a lot of admiration for him.”
Campbell remains just one option on a long list of possible targets the club has drawn up for the summer and the Black Cats plan to explore all avenues.
The one thing Sunderland will be looking for in the market this summer is value for money and £1 for Campbell is certainly that.