Black Cats enjoy a weekend of action

SUNDERLAND'S Paraguayan pair continued their preparations for next month's Copa America, with Paolo Da Silva and Cristian Riveros both in action over the weekend.

Cristian Riveros

SUNDERLAND'S Paraguayan pair continued their preparations for next month's Copa America, with Paolo Da Silva and Cristian Riveros both in action over the weekend.

The duo started in Saturday night’s away win over Bolivia, as their side chalked up a 2-0 triumph in Santa Cruz.

And following the promising victory, the pair will both be hoping to be involved when Paraguay play host to Romania in Friday’s friendly match in Asuncion.

The World Cup quarter-finalists will meet Brazil, Venezuela and Ecuador in group action when the Copa America eventually gets under way in Argentina on July 1.

The South American pair have not been the only Black Cats in international action, however, with Simon Mignolet having featured for Belgium over the weekend.

The goalkeeper let in just a single goal during their 1-1 draw with Turkey, leaving his side second in their Euro 2012 qualifying group behind leaders Germany.

Sunderland’s interest in the Ghanaian camp has diminished somewhat, following the expiry of loan spells for John Mensah and Sulley Muntari.

Mensah skippered the Black Stars to a 3-1 win over Congo in Kumasi on Friday, but has once again been stricken by injury.

The Lyon defender will miss tomorrow’s match against South Korea in Seoul.

Sunderland striker Asamoah Gyan will also absent from the Ghanain travelling party to face a Korean side which defeated Serbia 2-1 on Friday.

Closer to home, Jordan Henderson showed no signs of being sidetracked by speculation yesterday over a move to Liverpool as he featured for England’s Under-21s in the 2-0 victory over Norway in Southampton.

The Sunderland midfielder flies out today with Stuart Pearce’s squad for the European Championships in Denmark, with this coming Sunday’s opening game in Herning seeing them lock horns with Spain.

News of any confirmed transfer activity on Wearside has once again been non-existent, with speculation drawing attention predominantly towards the West Midlands.

Black Cats boss Steve Bruce has been linked with a return to his former club for three potential targets, with Birmingham City trio Roger Johnson, Craig Gardner and Seb Larsson all mentioned once again.

Larsson represents arguably the easiest potential capture, with the Swedish star available as a free agent, although the winger already boasts a number of potential suitors since January’s transfer window.

The inevitable cherry-picking of the Blues’ squad has only increased following their relegation from the top flight, with Johnson among their prize assets.

The former Cardiff man’s steadying influence at centre -back could be just what Bruce needs as he looks for further solidity, although the 28-year-old is unlikely to come cheap after impressing in his 38 starts for City last term.

Club-mate Gardner is the third Birmingham player to be reportedly on the Sunderland radar.

However, the 24-year-old, who signed a four-and-a-half-year contract with the Carling Cup winners last year, is expected to command significantly more than the £3 million that they paid Aston Villa for his services only a year-and-a-half ago.

Nonetheless his eight goals in 29 games last season could make the attacking midfielder worthy of the outlay, as the Black Cats look to improve on their tenth-place Premier League finish last term.

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