MARTIN O'Neill insists Sunderland might yet sign Danny Rose on a permanent basis, despite Andre Villas-Boas’ own insistence that the England Under-21 international will return to Tottenham Hotspur at the end of his season-long loan spell.
But either way, the Black Cats manager is delighted by his Spurs counterpart’s revelation after Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at the Stadium of Light that the north London club are unlikely to exercise a recall option regarding the 22-year-old during the January transfer window.
Rose joined Sunderland in the summer and though Premier League rules forbade him from participating in Saturday’s game, he has impressed O’Neill during 16 appearances for the Wearside outfit.
O’Neill had hoped to discuss the possibility of securing Rose permanently with Villas-Boas at the weekend.
But before the opportunity arose, the Portuguese manager said in his post-match press conference that, while Rose is likely to remain at Sunderland until the end of the season, anything beyond a temporary arrangement would be “impossible”.
“We have high expectations for Danny,” said Villas-Boas, who refuses to “give away a player of his quality”. “Has Martin O’Neill asked me about Danny?
“No, no. I’ve been speaking with Danny about the situation and our objective is to bring back the player. We believe in him a lot.”
While encouraged by the “good news” of Rose’s retention on Wearside beyond January, the longer-term prognosis disappointed O’Neill.
The Sunderland boss appealed publicly to his opposite number for confirmation in private of the latest development in the situation.
But O’Neill also hinted that it might yet change, depending on circumstances.
“I’m really disappointed Andre said that,” said O’Neill, of Villas-Boas’ “impossible” assertion.
“But things can change, absolutely. There are lots of things can happen. If we put an offer in for £38million, I think he would taxi him up here!
“At this moment he is doing very, very well, obviously, and in many aspects it is helping Tottenham. There weren’t too many takers for Danny when we came in for him, and he has enjoyed it immensely here.
“There wasn’t a rush for him at that stage but he has done remarkably well for us and if he does stay now that is encouraging.
“Am I frustrated we didn’t sign him permanently originally? I think it’s a good point but I am not so sure that it was ever on the agenda.
“Tottenham may well have felt at that stage that they could have done without him. But remember he was still young, playing in the Under-21s. But no, it didn’t raise its head in the first place.”
Asked to reflect on Villas-Boas’ revelation that Rose would remain on Wearside until the end of the campaign, O’Neill added: “I am very, very pleased.
“There was a date in January by which Tottenham had to let us know one way or the other, and that was fine.
“It gave us some time then to look for a replacement if that was going to be the case.
“But if that is correct, it’s good news for us and it’s something we can address later on, and we’ll have less of a concern.”
Meanwhile, Sunderland are understood to be keen on a loan move for 33-year-old former Everton midfielder Tim Cahill (pictured above), who joined Major League Soccer franchise New York Red Bulls in the summer.