TRANSFER DEADLINE PREVIEW: Strikers linked with Sunderland move

WATCHING BRIEF ... Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill.
WATCHING BRIEF ... Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill.
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Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill has insisted he won’t push Chairman Ellis Short to open his cheque book in January but admitted he will consider bringing a few new faces to the Stadium of Light.

The Black Cats’ lack of a goal-scorer has caused them problems as they have been forced to rely on the inconsistent Nicklas Bendtner, youngster Connor Wickham and attacking midfielder Stephane Sessegnon to help them find the net.

O’Neill will not be rushed into any decision before he can fully evaluate his squad after taking over from the sacked Steve Bruce at the start of December.

He said: “I’ve not specifically pushed for anything or asked about anything. That doesn’t mean you can’t keep an eye on things. It’d be foolish if you weren’t looking to see what might be out there.

“We are going to be linked in the not-too distant future with players and we’ve been linked with some pretty good players, some pretty average players and some pretty abominable players.

“I just want us to keep being linked with the pretty good players. If you get some injuries and occasionally long-term injuries then of course that presents a problem, but I’ll play that by ear.

“In an ideal world I would love to know the strengths and weaknesses of the team if at all possible. I know you frown upon saying everyone has a clean slate and I have tended not to make that many changes in team I have inherited.”

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Sunderland’s primary target is, says the Daily Mail, Fulham striker Bobby Zamora. Alternative options include Freiburg’s Papiss Demba Cisse, who has been prolific in the Bundesliga in a struggling team, and Ranger’s Nikica Jelavic.

Cisse would be a good fit at the Black Cats as he is a poacher in the box and is a similar player to Darren Bent and Asamoah Gyan both of whom left the club this year.

However the cost could be a problem with the German side wanting around £15 million for his signature and the Wearsiders could also face competition from Bayern Munich.

The Sengalese international confirmed in November that he would been keen to move to England

He said: “I want to test myself at a big club and I believe I would be a big success in England.

“I watch the Premier League and I am pleased that people are talking about me in the same sentence as good clubs.

“My aim is to be the best I can be, we will see what happens but my club know my position.”

One player who is unlikely to join Sunderland is Aston Villa’s Stiliyan Petrov who was tipped to join his former manager from his time with Villa and Celtic but denied last week he was set to move to the Stadium of Light.

“The speculation came out from the blue and I’m very happy at Villa,” said Petrov. “When transfer windows come there is speculation, but I’m a Villa player and every time I go out I play with all my heart.

“I don’t have the intention to go. It’s up to the club if they want me but I’d love to stay and I’m enjoying it.”

According to the Daily Star O’Neill is set to move for one of his former players at Villa Park with defender Carlos Cuellar about to join the Black Cats.

His contract is up at the end of the season and Sunderland could get the Spaniard for about £2 million after joining Villa for nearly £8m in 2008.

Out-goings at the Wearsiders may be few as O’Neill stated everyone will get a chance to impress him.

Craig Gardner could make a switch back to the Midlands with Wolves and West Brom both interested as the midfielder has failed to settle in the North East.

Matt Kilgallon, impressive as a sub in the New Year’s Day win over Manchester City, could still be set for a move away.

The defender has admitted that getting away from the club in the transfer window would be the best thing for him after joining the Black Cats in January 2010 for £2m.

He said: “It just hasn’t happened for me here. Getting out in January would be good.

“I don’t want to just sit here and see my contract out. I’m not the sort of lad to do that. I just want to get out there, enjoy my football again and play.”

Other than that only younger players such as Louis Laing and Ryan Noble may move to Championship clubs on-loan with David Meyler also needing regular games as he looks to step-up his recovery from injury that has ruled him out for the past year.

SAFC TRANSFER RUMOURS

Possible INS – Bobby Zamora (8m) from Fulham, Carlos Cuellar (2m) from Aston Villa, Papiss Demba Cisse (£15m) from Freiburg.

Possible OUTS – Craig Gardner (5m) to West Brom or Wolves, Matt Kilgallon (1m) to Birmingham City, Ryan Noble (Loan) to Coventry, Louis Laing (Loan) to Derby.