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Cats must pay at least £15m for striker
SUNDERLAND will have to pay at least £15m for Steven Fletcher as Wolverhampton Wanderers play hardball over the Scotland international's potential transfer to Wearside .
The saga took a twist yesterday when Fletcher revealed on Twitter that he had put in a transfer request, but chief executive Jez Moxey is unwilling to part with his prize asset.
Wolves have no intention of selling Fletcher for any less than £15m, since they had made a £2m profit last year and have no rneed to sell any players despite their relegation to the Championship.
Any potential deal for the striker, who cost Wolves £6m a year ago, hinges on Sunderland agreeing to cover the sell-on clause which will be owed to Burnley upon his transfer.
Black Cats boss Martin O'Neill, who saw his side draw 1-1 at Derby County last night, would not comment on the latest developments.
"I genuinely can't comment on that," said O'Neill. "Personally I would like to say as little as possible on that as he is another team's player.
"We have said before that we have made bids for a number of players and really things have kind of stabilised and not gone forward as much.
"We know that we would like to strengthen the side, we need to strengthen the side, that's fine, but I'll see how things develop. We can only do so much."
James McClean's second-half goal was cancelled out by Nathan Tyson to take a share of the spoils at Pride Park, where Sunderland's goalless pre-season on home soil finally came to an end.
McClean, fully rested from his international break, had a shot tipped on to the post by England under-21 goalkeeper Frank Fielding on 10 minutes, while Craig Gardner was denied by the Rams' number one on 21 minutes.
Carlos Cuellar hit the post with a scuffed effort, while Derby had their own chances with Jamie Ward forcing a handful of saves out of goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.
The game seemed set to fizzle out until McClean finally drew blood with 20 minutes left on the clock. Put through by half-time substitute Kieran Richardson , the Ireland international's shot squirmed in via Fielding to give Sunderland the lead for the first time in pre-season since their wooden-spoon victory over FC Groningen in South Korea two weeks ago.
However, Sunderland lost their lead with a minute left to play when Rams substitute Michael Hoganson found fellow replacement Tyson who headed home.
Despite the late disappointment, O'Neill - who denied a bid had been made for full-back Richardson from QPR - is not ready to press the panic button just yet, despite witnessing just one victory in pre-season so far.
He said: "I'm not too disappointed really, I thought the performance we put in tonight, certainly on recent performances, was good. Again, it's just players getting into the right frame of mind and physically. This was another step towards that.
"The goal had been a long time coming, it seems a long time since Korea. We know we need to make big improvements, we're trying to do that. It's very important to freshen the squad and add some quality to the squad.
"I've seen a couple of pre-season friendlies and it's been exactly the same. You can be hypercritical of these things but whatever you say about it, players want to get themselves right for the season. At this stage I can understand if they duck out of challenges they normally wouldn't during the season.
"We've got work to do. I said it after Helsingborgs. We know we've got work to do. We're trying to get there, trying to get a proper squad and we'll do our utmost to do that. There's been a bit of a lull, perhaps because of the Olympics, but I think it's only a matter of time before there is real genuine movement."
Derby: Fielding, Brayford (Robinson 85), Naylor (Hoganson 70), Hughes (Tyson 63), Buxton, Keogh, Coutts (Bailey 79), Hendrick, Robinson (Gjokas 85), Ward (Davies 85), Jacobs (Doyle 85). Sub not used: Legzdins.
Sunderland (4-5-1): Mignolet; Elmohamady, O'Shea, Cuellar (Egan 63), Adams (Richardson 46); Meyler (Noble 75), Larsson, Gardner (Cattermole 46), Colback, McClean (Knott 80); Campbell. Sub not used, Westwood (gk)