Sunderland’s O’Neill keeps striker options open

Danny Graham.
Danny Graham.
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SUNDERLAND boss Martin O’Neill is pursuing interest in other strikers as well as Swansea City front-man Danny Graham.

The Black Cats made a firm bid for the £5m-rated 27-year-old this week, who Swansea have suggested they will only allow to leave if their bid to sign Stoke City’s former Sunderland striker Kenwyne Jones succeeds.

But with other clubs, notably QPR, Norwich and Reading interested in signing the Gateshead-born striker, O’Neill is not confining his search for new striking talent purely to the Liberty Stadium.

He said: “I don’t want to talk about individuals at other clubs – that’s not my remit.

“But what I would say is that at this stage we do have several irons in the fire when it comes to reinforcing ourselves up front.

“We are looking at a variety of players, not just the one.”

Sunderland’s desire to cast their net wide is understandable. They cannot rely on getting Graham – though they must be in pole position given the fact they have made a bid which should be acceptable to Swansea, and the noises coming out of the player’s camp is that he favours a move back to the North East.

But the Sunderland manager – who knows he needs to bring in new attackers with the club having allowed Ji Dong-won to go out on loan, Bosman-signing Louis Saha to leave if he can find a new club, and Fraizer Campbell looking set to move to Cardiff City – knows he cannot afford to put all his eggs in one basket.

He said: “It has been a busy time for us with a lot of games, as well as the window, but it will settle down a bit next week with no game to play and maybe then we can force one or two things along.”

By then, Campbell could be on his way – the player having travelled down to Cardiff in midweek for talks.

But Sunderland are not necessarily ready to part immediately with a player who might have to wait for a move while the Black Cats look to bring in a replacement.

O’Neill said: “Players are leaving and need to be replaced in the squad.

“By the same token we don’t want to leave ourselves short at the end of the transfer window.

“We recalled Ahmed Elmohamady from Hull City this week for that reason – because we need more bodies.

“And we have to think twice about letting anyone go at the moment if we can’t get replacements in.”