STEVE Bruce has accused Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez of playing games with Kenwyne Jones as he lashed out at the under- hand techniques being used to try and unsettle the striker.
Bruce is livid with Liverpool’s behaviour and privately blames Benitez for reports earlier this week that the Trindad and Tobago international was going to move to Anfield on loan before making the move permanent in the summer.
That prompted a ferocious response from Bruce ahead of the trip to Portsmouth in the FA Cup. He fears he will have to leave the striker on the bench this afternoon as he has been so disturbed by the constant talk of him leaving.
“It has unsettled the boy and it has probably got to the stage where he thinks I don’t want him, which is not the case,” said Bruce, who is adamant nobody from Liverpool has discussed the transfer with anyone at the Stadium of Light. “Publicly or privately I can not stop this constant link with Kenwyne Jones and Liverpool.
“It is the frustration that I would let him go on loan. All that does is turn the head of the big boy. I will speak to Kenwyne because it is very disappointing. Is he in a frame of mind to play? I don’t know.
“I don’t know whether they are serious or whether Rafa is playing games with his board, but the only person suffering is Kenwyne Jones. People must think I’ve lost my marbles if they think I’m going to send him out on loan, they aren’t very good at the minute after being beaten by seven (at Chelsea) but I haven’t lost them.
“I’m going to have to speak to Kenwyne before the game because he must believe I’m desperate to show him the door and that’s not the case. He’s done very well with Benty this season. The one thing we are going forward is very decent and Kenwyne is part of that. It is disrespectful and disappointing.
“If he wants to go to Liverpool, then if they go through the right channels and do it properly, I have got a decision to make, it is as simple as that.”
Stories in the national media claimed Jones would leave on loan as it was a tax break for the two clubs and the transfer would only show up on next year’s balance sheets. But Bruce is adamant it is not something he will ever consider.
He said: “The notion that I would loan Kenwyne Jones out is totally ludicrous. He is not going on loan to anybody.
“If Liverpool are going to come and offer the amount of money, which we think is his value, then every player, not just Kenwyne Jones, has his price.
“But I would have to say it would have to be a huge amount of money for us to every contemplate it. I haven’t even got a price in my head because I don’t think Liverpool can go there.
“I don’t think they can, but what are they trying? It is like me asking for Steven Gerrard on loan. I will try that maybe. It is hugely disrespectful. He is one of the big players in the Premier League. He is a centre-forward and the notion I would let him go on loan, well, do me a favour.”
While a bid of more than £15m might be enough to persuade Sunderland to part with Jones, it is highly unlikely to happen this month as Bruce would have no time to find a replacement.
He added: “I will find it very difficult to sell Kenwyne Jones now with one week (of the transfer window) to go and the one thing I am not going to jeopardise is the future of the football club. Kenwyne has a big part to play in that future. But if Liverpool come with a ridiculous amount of money, who knows?”