JAMES McFadden is desperate for a permanent deal at Sunderland after joining on a week’s trial.
The Scotland international is without a club following his release from Everton in the summer and is training with Martin O’Neill’s men – with a view to impressing enough to earn a short-term contract.
His agent Rob Segal confirmed to The Journal the player would like to link up with O’Neill, having travelled from his base in Birmingham to train with the first-team squad in the run-up to the West Ham game.
Although primarily a striker, McFadden can play on either wing and in the centre of midfield if required.
That kind of versatility would make him a good option for O’Neill.
Although happy with the business conducted by the club over the summer, O’Neill still feels his squad is short of senior cover as he contemplates a busy run of fixtures between October and the January transfer window. The Sunderland boss will select his strongest team for the Capital One Cup and wants more senior players to supplement his first XI.
McFadden trained with the club on Monday and is set to stay until the end of the week,
with O’Neill making a decision over the weekend on the former Scotland international.
While Sunderland will need to be convinced he offers them enough to make any move worthwhile, McFadden – wanted by Huddersfield and several Scottish Premier League clubs – is very keen to make the move.
Segal said: “He is training with Sunderland at the moment and hopefully he will join them if that is an option.
“It is a great club but I don’t know where we stand at the moment.
“We will wait and see what happens over the next few days.”
McFadden started his career at Motherwell before joining Everton in 2003.
He enjoyed more success at Birmingham, but a serious knee injury ruled him out for most of 2011 and, after being released by the Blues following their relegation from the Premier League 16 months ago, he has been looking for a platform to relaunch his career.
O’Neill spoke last week about the possibility of bringing in free agents to supplement his squad and McFadden is one of the most high-profile players without a club. Another linked with Sunderland in the past – former England striker Emile Heskey – has joined Australian side Newcastle Jets.
As the Black Cats look to strengthen their squad, goalkeeper Simon Mignolet insists the existing players have enough to cope with West Ham’s physical threat this summer.
Although Sam Allardyce is always at pains to point out his team are not a ‘route one’ side, there is the prospect of the Black Cats’ defence facing a lot of aerial challenges at Upton Park on Saturday, even though the Hammers will be without the injured Andy Carroll.
Mignolet says that should not cause too much anxiety in the red-and-white ranks for they are more than capable of competing.
The Belgian said: “We know how Sam Allardyce shapes up his team and we know what we are going to come up against.
“There is a balance between focusing on these things and at the same time making sure you do not dwell on them.
“I’m sure that, in training this week, we’ll be working on how to defend against their style of play.
“It’s nothing to worry about too much.”