Jeffers Will Be A Big Miss

Don Hutchison last night admitted Sunderland had missed out on a gem in failing to add Francis Jeffers to the Wearsiders' Goodison Park old boy network.

Don Hutchison last night admitted Sunderland had missed out on a gem in failing to add Francis Jeffers to the Wearsiders' Goodison Park old boy network.

The Scotland international revealed his disappointment at his former Everton team-mate's decision to opt for Arsene Wenger's Arsenal, denying the Stadium of Light its first high- profile British signing of the summer.

But, while admitting Jeffers will be a big miss, Hutchison is backing Reid's little-known quartet of close season imports to make a name for themselves in the Premiership.

The Sunderland boss showed an interest when Jeffers became unsettled at Goodison Park last year. But, once the England Under-21 international expressed a desire to move to North London, not even a substantial bid from Newcastle could dissuade the Liverpudlian from becoming an Arsenal player.

On the day Reid saw two other players he has shown interest in - Wimbledon striker Jason Euell and QPR targetman Peter Crouch - sign for Charlton and Portsmouth respectively, Hutchison paid tribute to goalscoring prodigy Jeffers, who the Gateshead-born midfielder played alongside for two years at Goodison.

"I was hoping we would get Francis, it's a shame we missed out on him, but I think he always wanted to go to Arsenal - so it's a great one for him."

Despite spending much of the last month out of the country on a well-earned summer break, Hutchison - Sunderland's second-top scorer last season - has kept a close eye on the transfer comings and goings.

This has seen unknown French striker David Bellion become the latest Wearside arrival, in addition to £3.6m compatriot Lilian Laslandes, £3.5m Argentina Under-20 international Nicolas Medina and inexperienced Dutch defender Baki Mercimek. Hutchison added: "Even though I've been out of the country, I've been keeping in touch with what's been going on in the transfer market.

"I have to admit I don't know anything about our new signings, but Peter Reid knows what he's doing, he's judged well in the past and hopefully he has spent well again this time."

Hutchison is itching to get back into pre-season training, which resumes on July 9 - eight days before the club's first warm-up game in Calais.

The 30-year-old added: "It was great to be able to relax after a long hard season, but now I just want to get back playing. I can't wait."

Sunderland last night accepted a £500,00 bid for midfielder Chris Lumsdon from Crewe.

The First Division club had a six-figure bid for the 21-year-old Newcastle-born youth product turned down last season after he impressed during a lengthy loan spell at Gresty Road.

Crewe's near neighbours Stoke City also inquired about a player whose first team opportunities were limited to a handful of Worthington Cup games and one Premiership start by the strength of manager Peter Reid's squad.

Dario Gradi persuaded Reid to part company with the strong-running play-maker with a bid in the region of £500,000, no insignificant amount for a club of Crewe's limited funds. The Alex boss is looking to re-shape his engine room, having also strengthened his interest in Hartlepool's highly- rated Tommy Miller, for whom he has offered £800,000.

Sunderland's friendly with Calais on July 17 kicks off a schedule of games across four countries in preparation for the new season.

Meanwhile, Sunderland duo Julio Arca and Nicolas Medina helped Argentina overwhelm 10-man Paraguay 5-0 in Buenos Aires last night to clinch a place in the final of the Fifa World Youth Champion-ships.

The hosts will meet Ghana, who beat Egypt 2-0 in yesterday's other semi-final, on Sunday in the Under-20 competition's decider.


David Whetstone
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Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
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