RICKY Sbragia has revealed that Sunderland are focusing on a new set of targets after conceding defeat in their bid to lure one of their priority defensive signings.
The Black Cats began the week on the trail of five players but have now whittled down their transfer wish-list after receiving a “no” from one of their top targets.
That leaves Sunderland picking from a list that is understood to include West Ham’s Callum Davenport and Portsmouth veteran Hermann Hreidarsson. Sbragia also retains at interest in Hearts’ £3m-rated Scotland defender Christophe Berra, but faces competition from former Cats boss Mick McCarthy at Wolves.
“We got a definite ‘no’ from one player on Tuesday and that was a little bit disappointing,” Sbragia said. “We’re just enquiring again about other players now and the goalposts have moved slightly, which is pleasing. We’ve been working on these deals for ages – we enquired again about one player and that seems as if it may take place in the coming days.
“This one, we feel, is a little bit more promising and we hope that maybe on Friday or Saturday something might come of it. We’ve identified two and I hope we’ll get somebody in before the deadline.”
Sbragia’s first transfer window in charge at Sunderland has been a frustrating one, with the Black Cats finding progress difficult to make in a market compressed by the unusually large number of teams involved in the Premier League’s relegation battle.
Two of the players that Sunderland wanted are at West Ham, but the Hammers are not desperate to sell after managing to recoup good money for Craig Bellamy and Matthew Etherington.
Sunderland missed out on James Collins last week, while an enquiry has been made about Davenport – but not yet followed up.
And the Black Cats boss admits he will be happy when the deadline passes on Monday afternoon.
“It just seems that if we do enquire, Premier League teams are reluctant to let them go. We can understand that,” he said.
“Sometimes it’s that the player might not be in the squad – you enquire about them and then they’re back in the squad. That happened this week.
“We’ve just got to get on with it. Niall (Quinn) has been on the phone pretty much all of the time since the window opened.”
Sunderland have had more success lightening their wage bill, with Graham Kavanagh, Ross Wallace and Pascal Chimbonda among the significant outgoings.
And the Black Cats are hopeful of selling one more before the end of the month. That is believed to be Rade Prica, the subject of £1m bids from Danish sides FC Midtjylland and Aalborg.
“We might try and get one more out, which would help us. That’s at a crucial stage at the moment – it depends on the player,” Sbragia said.
QPR have an interest in Daryl Murphy but Sbragia said yesterday that he will not allow the striker to leave on loan.
“QPR did enquire in the summer. But we won’t let him go out on loan – somebody would need to buy him,” he said.