FREE agent Keith Andrews has knocked back the opportunity of playing in the Champions League – leaving him open for a potential move to Sunderland.
The 31-year-old was this week offered a two-year deal by Celtic, who will go into the final play-off for European football’s elite competition.
But the Irish international turned them down because, according to sources, he had already agreed a deal in principal with an English club.
Relegated Bolton Wanderers believe Andrews will now sign for them, following West Brom’s decision to allow the midfielder’s contract to run out.
However, Andrews was watched a number of times by Sunderland scouts towards the end of last season and is a player admired by Martin O’Neill.
In many ways he is an ideal signing for the Black Cats boss in that he is combative midfielder with a good attitude, which O’Neill likes, and would prove value for money as he is available on a Bosman.
But Bolton are, for the moment, favourites for man of many clubs Andrews, but it would appear strange if he turned down the chance of European football at Celtic for a Championship club, when there would be an opportunity
for him to stay in the Premier League.
Despite the Republic of Ireland failing to pick up a single point in their disappointing Euro 2012 campaign, Andrews was easily the men in green’s best player.
He had more shots on goal than even Robbie Keane and whole he was sent off late in the final match against Italy, Andrews emerged from the tournament with his reputation enhanced.
Sunderland winger Seb Larsson, meanwhile, is not jumping on the England to win the European Championship bandwagon - because he believes they are not as good as his Sweden side.
The Black Cats star scored in his country’s 2-0 win over France, a result that meant little to the Swedes who were already out, but saw Roy Hodgson’s side finished top of Group D and avoided favourites Spain in the quarter-final.
England face Italy on Sunday night, hoping to reach their first semi-final since Euro 96.
And while there is renewed optimism among England fans that this at long last, could be their team’s year, Larsson did not buy into this theory.
He said: “I don’t think England are any better than us so it will be difficult for them to beat teams such as Germany or Spain.
“We should have beaten England. We only have ourselves to blame because we were 2-1 up in the second-half and can have no excuses. We were leading the game with an hour to go and should have seen out the win.
“I felt England were lucky, but they made it through and we didn’t, so good luck to them.”