Quinn: time needed to sign Bent replacement
WITH Sunderland running the rule over a number of potential replacements for Darren Bent, Niall Quinn has admitted it will be difficult for the club to recruit a long-term successor to the England international this month. Quinn has spoken to a number of clubs both at home and abroad since Bent submitted a transfer request on Sunday, paving the way for a £24m move to Aston Villa. Those talks continued yesterday, with the Black Cats compiling a short-list of targets to pursue before the weekend. Much of their focus has been centred on Stoke City, with Ricardo Fuller and Tuncay Sanli both interesting Sunderland boss Steve Bruce. Stoke remain confident of signing Hoffenheim striker Demba Ba before the transfer window closes, despite the African having failed to pass a medical last week, and Tony Pulis is willing to listen to offers for both Fuller and Tuncay. Fuller, a 31-year-old Jamaica international, has recently entered the final 18 months of his contract at the Britannia Stadium, but has been unable to agree a new deal. He has fallen out with Pulis in recent weeks, and has spent the last few days training with Stoke's reserves. He would provide a shortterm solution to Sunderland's attacking problem Asamoah Gyan is likely to be the only attacker available for Saturday's Premier League game at Blackpool and would add a much-needed physical presence to the Black Cats' attack. Tuncay is a different type of player, and is understood to be earning around £60,000-aweek in the Potteries, but he too has struggled to win a place in Stoke's first team in recent weeks, and Bruce was a long-standing admirer of the Turk during his former spell at Middlesbrough. Aston Villa's John Carew is another target, and it is understood he was mentioned in the discussions that led to Bent moving to Villa Park. However, Fulham are also interested in him, and sources in the Midlands claim the 31- year-old has expressed a preference for Craven Cottage. Sunderland have spoken to Tottenham about the possibility of signing Peter Crouch, but have no interest in recruiting Robbie Keane. With loan moves for Paris St Germain's Stephane Sessegnon and Inter Milan's Sulley Muntari ongoing, the Black Cats have plenty of irons in the fire. Quinn freely admits, few of them represent a like-for-like replacement for Bent, who scored 36 goals in his 65 Sunderland starts. I don't think we're going to replace someone like him (Bent) perfectly in the next ten days, said the Sunderland chairman, who is also pondering a formal offer for longterm target Charles N'Zogbia. We'll try, and we might find some sort of a (shortterm) solution. But we'll be looking to the longer term and trying to find a solution there as well. What we're looking for to help Gyan and (Danny) Welbeck would probably be more of a physical presence. We just might need to toughen up and find a more physical player. Despite securing a clubrecord fee for Bent, Quinn claims the terms of the deal, allied to the £4m-plus that Sunderland owed Tottenham for the outstanding balance of the agreement that took the striker to the Stadium of Light in the first place, means there is not a bottomless pit to raid this month. You do your transfers in stages and we still owed Spurs money, he said. The first sum Aston Villa have paid us is barely enough to pay Spurs, so I don't have money burning a hole in my pocket. But in the next three years I will have. We didn't get handed a cheque for £24m we got handed a cheque for about a quarter of that, but we had to pay Spurs the remainder of the money we owed them. If we can find a club that will allow us to pay in stages, we will do that. While Sunderland are hoping to complete at least one deal before the weekend, a new signing is unlikely to be in place before Bruce takes his side to Blackpool's Bloomfield Road. This week's events hardly provide the ideal backdrop for an away game against the Premier League's surprise packages, but centre-half Anton Ferdinand claims that because of the precarious nature of their profession, footballers find it easy to take surprises in their stride. When you are in a dressing room, and around things, you know what's going on, said Ferdinand. From the outside, people don't always see what's going on in the dressing room, so when it comes out into the media, it's a big surprise. Things get blown out of proportion, but when you're on the inside involved in it all, you see the bigger picture and take it in your stride. For a player, I don't think things like this are ever as bad as they are for the supporters, who are reading it day after day and being surprised by what happens. And if you can't deal with distractions, you won't be able to play in the Premier League. Ferdinand did, however, concede his team-mates were taking an interest in the names being mentioned as possible replacements for Bent. The lads want to know who's coming in, and are excited by it, especially if it's a top player coming into the club, he said. Personally, I can't wait to train with any new player and see what they're about.
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