Villa striker Agbonlahor shrugs off Sunderland link

Gabby Agbonlahor
Gabby Agbonlahor
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GABBY AGBONLAHOR has shrugged off talk linking him with a move to Sunderland, insisting he has heard nothing from former Aston Villa boss Martin O’Neill.

Agbonlahor (right) is thought to have been on Sunderland’s wishlist this summer as they look to boost a front line depleted by the departures of strikers Nicklas Bendtner and Asamoah Gyan.

The 25-year-old enjoyed the most productive spell of his career when O’Neill was in charge at Villa Park – reaching double figures in each of the manager’s four seasons and making his senior England bow in the process.

But boyhood Villa fan Agbonlahor still has three years remaining on his contract and says there has been no contact from the Black Cats.

Agbonlahor said: “Looking at it over the summer I’m just laughing to myself thinking ‘where do they get these links from’?

“I’m an Aston Villa player, it’s my home club, I love the club and as long as I’m contracted to the club then I’ll continue to play for them until I get told otherwise. Sunderland’s very far away anyway.

“I think when you’ve played with a manager before, especially one as good as Martin O’Neill, then you are going to be linked with him.

“And when a new manager comes in here (Paul Lambert) then people think straight away that you’re not going to be involved.

“For me it’s just speculation and nobody knows whether it’s true or it’s not true.

“But I haven’t heard anything about it.”

O’Neill has also been linked with Agbonlahor’s Villa team-mates James Collins and Stephen Warnock, but his focus remains on attacking recruits with Wolves hitman Steven Fletcher a target throughout the summer.

Ideally, the Sunderland manager would like to add experience to his frontline, with rookies Connor Wickham, Ji Dong-won and Ryan Noble boasting just eight Premier League starts between them.

“Undoubtedly, what is focusing my mind more than anything else is the need to strengthen our attacking options,” O’Neill told the Echo yesterday.

“We have lost Nicklas Bendtner after his loan, we have lost Asamoah Gyan from our squad list and we need to bring in strikers.

“What I am looking to do is bring in attacking players who have quality and who have more experience than we have now.”