Wolves will not let Sunderland 'target' Steven Fletcher leave cheaply

 

Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill will take his search for reinforcements to the wire if he has to.

The Ulsterman's efforts to strengthen his squad this summer have to date proved frustrating, with no new arrivals since the capture of free agent Carlos Cuellar last month.

His pursuit of Wolves striker Steven Fletcher, however, appears to be coming to a head with the 25-year-old Scotland international having yesterday handed in a transfer request after growing frustrated with his club's stance over his future.

O'Neill knows from experience just how long these things can take and while he would ideally like to have had all his targets on board long before the start of the new season, at Arsenal on August 18, he knows he may find himself anxiously awaiting news as the summer transfer window draws to a frenzied conclusion.

He said: "Unfortunately, I have been involved in late scrambles before, so it's nothing new to me in that sense.

"Obviously, the most important issue is to try to get them in before the deadline finishes.

"Ideally it would be great to get them in and be part of the club before you kicked off the season, and we will do our utmost to do that.

"But unfortunately, I am unable to promise anything other than that we do have players in mind and we are trying our best to get them."

O'Neill has studiously avoided commenting on his targets and his public stance is still to confirm only that a series of bids have been lodged and that the club is busily trying to push home its interest on several fronts.

However, it is known that Fletcher's name features high on, if not at the top of, his wish-list.

Sunderland have made a series of offers for the former Hibernian and Burnley frontman, the latest thought to amount to £12million, but relegated Wolves are yet to receive a bid which meets their valuation of the player - with some reports suggesting they could want as much as £15million.

The Black Country club insisted early this summer that their star men were simply not for sale as they plan for an immediate promotion push, although they are realistic enough to know that every player has his price.

Fletcher's situation is complicated by the fact that Burnley are due a proportion of any fee and Wolves are understandably keen to maximise the return they will receive from a sale.

However, Press Association sport understands the Scot, who cost the Midlanders £7million when he moved from Turf Moor in June 2010, fears their approach could price him out of a return to the Barclays Premier League.

Fletcher has two years of his current contract to run with the option of a further year, but his future will depend on how determined Wolves are to stick to their guns and whether or not Sunderland are prepared to return with another, more lucrative offer.

Aston Villa have also been linked with the player, although Sunderland are to date the only club to have made a formal approach.

O'Neill's need is increasingly pressing with 24-year-old Fraizer Campbell currently his most experienced striker, and with barely three weeks of the transfer window remaining, he needs to make a breakthrough soon.

Meanwhile, Stephane Sessegnon and Phil Bardsley are to undergo scans on ankle injuries tomorrow, with the Benin international in particular a concern for his manager.

PA

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