SUNDERLAND boss Steve Bruce expects to learn within the next 48 hours whether his pursuit of Peter Crouch has been successful after holding productive talks with the England striker in Wearside yesterday.
Bruce’s managerial reign got off to a winning start in a low key friendly against Darlington last night – a 4-0 win that was overshadowed by a serious knee injury to defender Paul McShane.
Speaking afterwards, Bruce cheekily revealed that he has bought sun lotion for £12million man Crouch in the hope that he is on board by the time the club jet off for their next pre-season game in Portugal on Sunday.
But he also emphasised that his interest in the forward will not spell the end for Kenwyne Jones’ (left) Sunderland career. Crouch and his agent were on Wearside yesterday and will talk to Fulham boss Roy Hodgson over a move to the West London club today.
“We spoke to him and his agent today,” said Bruce.
“It was good to have him up, we’ve got to keep our fingers crossed now because I believe there is a bit of competition in there.
“He’s the type of signing that would set our intentions out – if we can pull it off it would be a
terrific signing for the club.
“I’m always an optimist – I hope he will sign. We’ve had him up, we’ve done our utmost and the club have backed me.
“I’ve bought him a bit of suntan lotion for Portugal for sitting on the beach!
“We’ll know in the next 48 hours. I’m led to believe he’s talking to Fulham but I didn’t bring that into the equation, I showed him what we had. Location is probably the biggest factor for him but we’ll see.”
But even if Sunderland land £12million target Crouch, Bruce is adamant that Kenwyne Jones will remain a Sunderland player.
The striker has been constantly linked with Spurs since Harry Redknapp took over at White Hart Lane, but there have been no offers since the January transfer window – and Bruce wants it to stay that way.
“He’s still a big part of my plans. He’s a very, very good player but if we’re going to progress and establish ourselves in the Premier League then we need three or four strikers and the lads are intelligent enough to understand that,” the Sunderland manager said.
“You can’t just go with two strikers. The ones who try to if something happens then you’re in serious trouble.
“I don’t want any more interest in Kenwyne to be honest. I want him to be one of my four strikers and we go from there.”
One unwanted development from last night’s friendly was a knee injury to Republic of Ireland defender McShane.
The Journal understands that as well as lodging bids for Crouch and Wigan midfielder Lee Cattermole, Sunderland have also tabled an offer of around £1.5million for Crystal Palace’s highly-regarded right-back Nathaniel Clyne.
Meanwhile, QPR are ready to step in after Daryl Murphy’s move to Hull broke down after the striker failed to reach an agreement on personal terms.