Bruce: I treat the transfer kitty as if it were my own
DAMANT Steve Bruce last night warned that he will not be bullied in to paying over the odds to find Darren Bent's replacement. The Black Cats boss insisted he would prefer to go into the final months of the season with the players that he has already rather than feel as though he has been duped on the transfer front. With Cardiff City and Stoke City both looking for more than what Sunderland are prepared to pay for Jay Bothroyd and Ricardo Fuller, chairman Niall Quinn is expecting another busy week of negotiations. Bothroyd, valued at around £4m with his contract up in the summer, and Fuller, who has been rated in the £5m bracket by his club, are still likely to move on this month. But while Sunderland have a strong interest in both players, Bruce claims he is willing to wait for Fraizer Campbell and Danny Welbeck to return from injury to boost their attacking options if clubs keep demanding too much. I treat the transfer kitty I have as if it was my own money, said Bruce, believed to be edging near to securing a deal for Inter Milan midfielder Sulley Muntari. At the moment everyone is thinking they will have us over, I have never subscribed to that. If there's a good price and we can do what we want to do then ... We only have five or six games between now and March. We have eight in April and May. By that time we should have Welbeck back, Campbell back. The need is not that great, but of course if we can get the right type who will add to the squad we will try to do it. Niall Quinn has been extremely busy in the last week, we must have five or six irons in the fire, let's see if something develops over the next couple of days. If it does I will report back. Sunderland have put plenty of feelers out in the English league and across Europe in the hope at least one deal can be done for a striker before the transfer window closes in a week. Bruce remains hopeful a deal will be struck in plenty of time with Paris St Germain for Stephane Sessegnon, although Everton have not give up on winning that particular race after selling Stephen Pienaar for £3m to Tottenham. There was also a claim from Muntari's agent, Fabien Piveteau, that a loan deal could be struck maybe by Tuesday in a deal that will take the Ghanaian from Inter Milan until the end of the season. Sunderland also remain interested in Stoke's Tuncay and Tottenham's Roman Pavlyuchenko and Peter Crouch. What Saturday's victory at Blackpool has done, however, has reminded Bruce that Sunderland have plenty of talented players left behind following Bent's £24m departure. You guys have had an absolute field day with what has happened this week. I just want to put a line under it, he said. Of course we were all disappointed with the timing of Darren's transfer request. As usual with any club, the club is bigger than any individual. Thankfully the squad has responded in the right way, I have got to know these people in the last 18 months and any time we have come under any adversity, especially this season, they have come out and shown what they are made of. After the derby defeat, they came out and showed what they were about. Now it is the last time since I can remember that Sunderland have come out and won back to back away games in the Premier League. They have shown a great attitude. They have proven no individual is bigger than any squad. Sunderland's victory at Bloomfield Road has left them just a point off fifth-placed Tottenham, who needed a late equaliser at Newcastle to prevent Sunderland from leapfrogging them. Bruce, however, still refuses to think too hard about the prospect of leading the Black Cats in to European football this season. I always said that you have to get over January and February, said Bruce, whose side face Chelsea a week tomorrow. You have to wait until the tulips and daffodils arrive. Once we get to that stage, if we have still got a chance, then we are in with a shout. From where we were 18 months ago, to where we are now, it's credit to the players we have brought in and the young squad we have got.
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