Steve Bruce, the Sunderland manager, yesterday spoke of his "disappointment" with Aston Villa counterpart Gérard Houllier over the transfer of Darren Bent. The striker left Sunderland this week for a fee that could rise to £24m, and Bruce said he wished he had been contacted by Houllier.
"There's a lot of people bitterly upset and disappointed, and rightly so. My big disappointment, of course, is Gérard Houllier who up until this time now, I still haven't had a phone call from. I would have thought, out of respect and a manager of his status, I would have thought maybe a phone call from him to say, 'Listen Steve, we're after your centre-forward and your striker.'
"I would have thought, maybe that might have been the way forward, it usually is with the great managers I've had the pleasure to deal with in the past, that's usually the case."
Sunderland's striking options have been further depleted by the news that Danny Welbeck will miss the next "six to eight weeks" after surgery on a torn cartilage.
Welbeck, who is on loan from Manchester United, has been in good form recently, scoring six goals in his last nine Premier League appearances.
With Fraizer Campbell still sidelined after a knee ligament injury sustained in August, this leaves Sunderland with Asamoah Gyan as their only currently available centre-forward, though the club hope to make at least one signing in the transfer window.