Sunderland keep options open on strikers

Ricardo Fuller
Ricardo Fuller
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SUNDERLAND are still keeping their options open over new attacking recruits despite reports claiming they were on the verge of signing Stoke’s Ricardo Fuller.

Speculation yesterday suggested Stoke had accepted a £3million bid from the Black Cats for Jamaican international Fuller after the Potters completed a loan deal for Aston Villa hitman John Carew.

But it is understood that Sunderland are yet to submit an offer for the 31-year-old, who trained as normal with Stoke yesterday prior to today’s trip to Fulham.

Fuller is a player who interests Sunderland boss Steve Bruce as he looks for a short-term replacement for the departed Darren Bent.

The Jamaican international would add a physical boost to the Sunderland attack and is not short on Premier League experience.

And with Villa signing Carew, who also interested Sunderland, Fuller’s days at the Britannia Stadium could be numbered.

But Bruce (right) is still looking at the strikers available on the market and his interest will fade quickly if Stoke are unreasonable with their asking price.

The Sunderland manager is in a weak bargaining position with opposing clubs knowing he is desperate to buy a new striker and has £24m at his disposal.

And if Stoke are demanding a reported £5m for Fuller’s services, then Bruce will look elsewhere.

Cardiff City’s Jay Bothroyd is one option and would be available at a reasonable price with the 28-year-old’s contract expiring at the end of the season.

But despite making an inquiry with Cardiff, Sunderland’s interest in the England international has cooled over the last few days.

One player who will not be joining Sunderland on a permanent basis this month is on-loan Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck.

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed Sunderland have no chance of landing the England U21 international, who is set to become the fourth choice striker at the league leaders next season behind Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov and Javier Hernandez.

“Steve has as much chance of getting me!” joked Ferguson.

“It is unfortunate Danny will be out for six weeks because he was playing so well. He has a long way to go yet but the signs are good for him.”