DANNY Rose is Sunderland’s main target on transfer deadline day with the England Under-21 international on the verge of replacing Kieran Richardson as the Black Cats’ left-back.
But there is little prospect of Clint Dempsey joining Rose at the Stadium of Light, with Sunderland’s interest in the Fulham midfielder confined to an inquiry before the arrival of Adam Johnson.
Rose is set to complete a season-long loan from Spurs today after Sunderland couldn’t agree a fee with Ukrainian outfit Dnipro for Croatian international full-back Ivan Strinic.
Richardson’s imminent move to Fulham would leave Sunderland short of options at left-back, with midfielder Jack Colback deployed there in Tuesday’s Capital One Cup win over Morecambe.
O’Neill has addressed that by moving for Team GB Olympic player Rose, with the 22-year-old set to become Sunderland’s fifth signing of the summer.
“Kieran is speaking to Fulham and that might well go through,” said O’Neill.
“That would obviously leave us with a position to fill at left-back.
“We did put in some offers for what I consider really decent players on the continent, but we never got round to matching their valuations.
“If Kieran does go, we would be looking at someone (to replace him) and I am pretty confident that we would be able to resolve that.”
Richardson held successful talks with Fulham yesterday after Sunderland accepted a fee of around £2million earlier this week.
The 27-year-old, who was Sunderland’s longest-serving player, told O’Neill during the summer that he wanted to end his five-year stay at the Stadium of Light to move closer to his native London.
And with Fulham boss Martin Jol vowing to deploy Richardson in his favoured midfield role, the former Manchester United man’s time at Sunderland is set to reach a conclusion before tonight’s 11pm deadline.
“We are talking to Richardson and hopefully he will come to us,” said Jol.
“A fee has been agreed and I’m confident it will happen before the deadline. I see him playing as a winger.”
Jol also confirmed that Sunderland are one of the clubs to have registered an interest in Dempsey, who has been frozen out at Fulham after expressing his desire to leave Craven Cottage.
“Certainly I expect a few clubs to be in the mix for him,” he added. “Sunderland is one of them, but I think that will be difficult.”
Sunderland made their inquiry several weeks ago though, crucially before the £10m signing of England international Johnson.
As the Echo reported earlier this week, Sunderland have not followed up that interest with an offer and are unlikely to today unless the Cottagers are willing to let the American leave for a fraction of his market value.
O’Neill expects Dempsey to join Liverpool anyway, with the Merseysiders freeing up a chunk of their wage bill last night after ex-Newcastle striker Andy Carroll joined West Ham on loan.
Although O’Neill would ideally like to add a right-back to his squad before the deadline – with Phil Bardsley still sidelined with an ankle injury – Rose is likely to be the only fresh face at the Stadium of Light, although the Sunderland boss still has an interest in Tottenham’s Jermaine Jenas on loan.
“In an ideal world, you wouldn’t mind making sure you’re comfortable everywhere,” he added.
“For instance, Craig is filling in at right-back for us until Phil comes back.
“He’s doing it admirably, but essentially he’s a midfield player.
“But since I’ve arrived we seem to have had players in different positions coping as best they can.
“Some have done it brilliantly, so maybe that epitomises the kind of spirit in the football club.”