STEVE BRUCE will not be letting Fraizer Campbell join Hull in the January transfer window, as the Sunderland boss has claimed the striker will only be hitting his peak form in the second half of the season.
Despite only moving to the Stadium of Light in a £3.5m switch from Manchester United this summer, Campbell, who spent the second half of the 2007-08 campaign on loan at Hull, was mentioned as a possible make-weight to help smooth Michael Turner’s transfer from the Tigers to the Black Cats.
In the end, Turner joined Sunderland without the need for a player to move in the opposite direction in exchange, but there has been further speculation suggesting Hull boss Phil Brown will attempt to secure either a permanent or loan deal when the transfer window reopens in January.
Bruce insists he will be wasting his time, and after ordering Campbell to take an extended summer break following his involvement in the European Under-21 Championships, the Black Cats boss expects the 22-year-old to be at his best from January onwards.
“It (Campbell’s departure) is something that has never been considered,” said Bruce.
“Honestly, I do not know where all of that has come from. I spent weeks trying to get him in here, so why would I let him go?
“I deliberately did not start the season with Fraizer because I let him have a holiday after the European Championships finished.
“I gave him five weeks off, so hopefully he will feel better in the middle and end of the season, rather than have burn out which I did not want.
“He was always going to be a bit later, so his time is about right now. It was important he had a holiday and a break from things, but he’s ready now.”
Campbell is one of two former Hull players in the current Sunderland squad, and the other, Turner, will make his Black Cats debut against his former employers this afternoon.
The 25-year-old is the centrepiece of Bruce’s new-look defence, and has moved to Wearside as one of the most highly-rated young centrehalves in the country.
England boss Fabio Capello is hardly short of options in that area, but with World Cup qualification having been secured on Wednesday night, Bruce feels Turner is capable of making a strong case for inclusion in the squad that will travel to South Africa.
“He has a chance,” he said.
“But we have some really strong players in that position.
Two of our world-class players are the centre-backs – (John) Terry and (Rio) Ferdinand.
“They are as good as they get, but it’s a long season and you certainly could not rule him out. Last year, I know he was on the fringes of things.
All he can do is have a really good season with us, and if he does that, who knows?”
Turner spent two years with Brentford before moving to Hull, and having started his own playing career at Gillingham, Bruce admits the defender’s grounding in the lower leagues was something that appealed to him.
“He is exactly the type of player I hoped I would be able to sign when I took this job,”
he said. “He is the sort you want and I like his background.
He has come from the lower divisions and played there a long time. He is tough, uncompromising and everyone watched him in the lower divisions and said, ‘I wonder if he could play at a higher level’.
“I know what that’s like because I was seven years at Gillingham and everyone looked and thought I was never going to get the chance.
They said I couldn’t run, wasn’t big enough and I thought I was going to end up in the lower divisions forever. I just needed someone to take a chance with me and that is what happened.”
Former Sunderland midfielder Liam Miller has signed a two-year contract with Hibs.
He was available outside the transfer window after being without a club since being released by QPR in May.