WITH only two days of transfer trading left in 2012, Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert says he has not had a bid from Sunderland for Stephen Warnock.
Kieran Richardson’s anticipated move to Fulham leaves the Black Cats’ need for a new left-back even more pressing.
With Warnock firmly out of favour at Aston Villa – the club Martin O’Neill took him to from Blackburn – the Merseysider seemed an obvious transfer target.
Even more so after young left-back Joe Bennett yesterday left Middlesbrough for Villa Park.
However, Lambert’s insistence that he has not received any offers for the 30-year-old suggests Sunderland are focusing their efforts more on Dnipro’s Ivan Strinic.
New manager Lambert has made it plain Warnock and former Sunderland loanee Alan Hutton have no part in his plans, but when asked if he had any takers for the pair he replied: “If your phone doesn’t go, you have to wait and see.
“Maybe their agents are doing things, I don’t know.”
Since releasing George McCartney this summer, the Wearsiders have not had a senior left-back on their books.
McCartney rejoined West Ham United, where he spent last season on loan.
O’Neill tried to fill the gap in his squad with Manchester City’s Wayne Bridge in the season half of last term.
However, the former England defender did not impress and was sent back to Eastlands, then moved on to Championship side Brighton and Hove Albion.
Richardson started at left-back in Sunderland’s only Premier League game this season, at Arsenal.
However, it has been clear for some time the 27-year-old has been unsettled and hoping for a move back to his native London.
Fulham have had a £2m bid accepted and a deal is expected to be finalised before tomorrow’s 11pm transfer deadline. Sunderland have shown an interest in the Cottagers’ Clint Dempsey – who is effectively on strike.
However, they may struggle to persuade a player who has made great play of wanting to appear in the Champions League to join a club who have not featured in European competition for 39 years.
Jack Colback played at left-back against Morecambe in the League Cup on Tuesday and John O’Shea and Matt Kilgallon can also play there.
However, O’Neill sees all three as most effective in the centre and Colback and O’Shea are two players he wants in the spine of his reshaped side.
Croatia’s Strinic has been in Sunderland’s thoughts since his performances at Euro 2012, where the 25-year-old played every minute.
His is likely to be one of the signatures the Black Cats hope to secure in the next 48 hours.
O’Neill was very busy on his first deadline day at the Stadium of Light – signing Bridge and Sotiros Krygiakos on loan and failing in an attempt to land Bolton Wanderers’ Kevin Davies.
Despite last week’s £22m flurry on Adam Johnson and Steven Fletcher, he will hope to be again.
Strikers are still on his shopping list despite recruiting Fletcher and Louis Saha this summer, with Tottenham Hotspur’s Jermain Defoe continuing to be linked having apparently failed to win over new manager Andres Villas-Boas.
O’Neill was unimpressed by Connor Wickham and Fraizer Campbell – who scored a goal each – last season and will be open to last-minute offers for either should they be forthcoming.
The Ulsterman also sent Nicklas Bendtner back to Arsenal at the end of his season-long loan.
Wickham’s poor debut season on Wearside has surprisingly not stopped him being named in the England under-21 squad for next month’s games against Azerbaijan and Norway.
Sunderland academy products Jordan Henderson and Martyn Waghorn are both in the squad, which for the first time features Leicester City midfielder Ben Marshall, who had two successful seasons on loan at Carlisle United.
Stuart Pearce’s side play in Baku a week today before hosting Norway at Chesterfield the following Monday.