Sunday 23 July 2017

Bruce hopes for new striker

Steve Bruce
Steve Bruce

Sunderland boss Steve Bruce is keeping his fingers crossed that chairman Niall Quinn does not leave him gambling on the fitness of star striker Darren Bent.

Bruce revealed today that Quinn is locked in negotiations over a top striker to replace Kenwyne Jones with just days of the summer transfer window remaining.

He refused to name names, but confirmed the player in question is a long-term target.

The Black Cats have been repeatedly linked with Rennes' Ghana international Asamoah Gyan, who enjoyed an impressive World Cup, and more recently, with West Ham's Carlton Cole, and while they will not pay what they regard to be over the odds for any player, Bruce is hoping his chairman can talk the player into a move to Wearside.

He said: "We are close to one. I believe the chairman is working extremely hard on that.

"Niall is being very persuasive - I know in the World Cup bid, he has been the star attraction, which I hope he can be for me now.

"I sincerely hope so. I know he will try his best and try to get it over the line for us.

"It would certainly be a big addition for us if we could possibly make it happen.

"We are in discussions as we speak, but one thing I won't do is pay inflated prices, just crazy money.

"I won't make that step. If it's right, then great, but we have also got to make sure we get the right business done."

Sunderland have been one of the Barclays Premier League's more active clubs this summer, but with owner Ellis Short insisting on value for money, have baulked at the asking price for the likes of Wigan midfielder Charles N'Zogbia.

However, Bruce admits that not replacing Jones, who left for Stoke in an £8million move earlier this month, would be a major gamble with youngsters Fraizer Campbell, Martyn Waghorn and loan signing Danny Welbeck the only foils for Bent.

He said: "I don't think any manager likes to gamble, especially with the transfer window the way it is.

"God forbid, if anything happened to Darren, then we are gambling. We are gambling on two young lads who have got a handful of games in the Premier League between them.

"They will eventually be good players, there's no doubt about that, but it is not an ideal scenario. Please God, he doesn't get injured.

"We were close last week and unfortunately it didn't happen. Let's hope.

"We are in discussions, but with the prices...it's a crazy market. There seems to be either no market or it's absolutely astronomical."

Sunderland have endured an ordinary start to the season, and the challenge increases markedly on Sunday when free-spending Manchester City arrive at the Stadium of Light.

Some onlookers have questioned Bent's form to date, but having given him an extra break this summer after he joined up with England for the pre-World Cup training camp, Bruce is happy enough with his return, which to date amounts to three goals in as many games.

He said: "Everybody is telling me he hasn't looked this and that - he has got three goals already, so he's off and running.

"We knew how vital he was to us - that's why we paid all that money.

"But then again, I could give you a handful of clubs and you take their best player out of it or their most valuable player, and they would all struggle a little bit - especially if he is a striker."

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