Steve Bruce has challenged Liverpool to make an offer for Kenwyne Jones, or end their pursuit of the Sunderland striker. The 49-year-old has grown exasperated with repeated speculation on Merseyside that he will allow the Trinidad and Tobago international to join Rafael Benitez's side on loan before completing a permanent move during the summer.
Bruce insists there has been no contact between the clubs, and that Jones would only be allowed to leave if his club received an offer they could not refuse. "Kenwyne Jones is not going to go on loan to Liverpool or anybody else. I would be mad," the Sunderland manager said. "Now, if Liverpool are going to come and offer an amount of money, then we all know what happens. Every player has got a price and a valuation. I have to say though, it would have to be a huge amount of money for us even to contemplate it.
"The only thing it's done is unsettle the boy. It's got him probably thinking I don't want him, which is far from the case. But I can't stop it. Publicly or privately. Now if Liverpool are serious – which I don't know if they are or whether it is Rafa having games with his board – but the ones who are suffering are Sunderland and Kenwyne Jones. It's hugely disrespectful."
Sunderland visit Portsmouth in the FA Cup fourth round today but Avram Grant, the manager, cancelled his weekly pre-match press conference before the tie as the club's off-the-field problems intensified this week.
The Israeli was due to stage his weekly conference at the club's Eastleigh training base yesterday, but director of communications, Gary Double, said: "Avram just didn't want to do it. He said there is nothing more to add and he has spoken about everything. He knows the questions are all going to be about off-the-field stuff."