SUNDERLAND are among the clubs hoping to sign Junior Hoilett in the wake of Blackburn Rovers’ relegation last night.
The 21-year-old will play his last game for the club he joined as a 13-year-old, when doomed Rovers face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
But the out-of-contract winger will be on the move this summer with Rovers having lost all hope of re-signing him after being relegated to the Championship following their 1-0 defeat to Wigan at Ewood Park.
Sunderland will make every effort to bring him to the Stadium of Light this summer as boss Martin O’Neill looks to make the changes needed to take the club to the next stage of its development.
But they will face stiff competition for his signature with Tottenham and Arsenal rumoured to be among a host of clubs interested in the Canadian-born star, who plays as a striker or winger.
Most might see Sunderland as being a long way behind the North London giants in terms of attracting the pacey and exciting Hoilett.
But the Black Cats managed to sign Connor Wickham last summer despite strong competition from Liverpool, and O’Neill can virtually guarantee the developing youngster a starting place in his side, something that neither Spurs nor Arsenal are likely to do.
Hoilett has scored seven goals for Rovers this season and has regularly played in an advanced role but O’Neill is likely to see him as a right winger, whose speed and directness would offer an alternative to the bustling presence of James McClean on the opposite flank.
The Rovers man, though, also enjoys playing on the left wing where he can use his right foot to cut inside and would also offer McClean the competition O’Neill is looking for to help drive the Irishman’s game forward.
Hoilett will have many options this summer and is highly unlikely to make a swift decision over his future, waiting instead for all the offers to roll in before deciding which way to go.
But it will be heartening for Sunderland fans that the club is throwing its hat into the ring for a player of Hoilett’s calibre.
The Black Cats are still in the process of firming up their transfer targets but are monitoring closely the battle at the bottom of the Premier League and the players, like Junior Hoilett, who are set to come on to the market this summer.
Rovers have been watched many times by Sunderland this season and Yakubu is also a player who could figure on the radar.
The 29-year-old offers the physical presence up front that O’Neill craves and is also a regular goalscorer having netted 16 league goals for Rovers this season. The Black Cats, though, are also keeping tabs on Wolves’ main forward Steven Fletcher, who scored twice against Sunderland in December with Martin O’Neill watching from the stands, and has scored 11 league goals for the Premier League whipping boys.