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Three in and Richardson out at Sunderland?
After guiding the Black Cats to a credible point at Arsenal on the opening weekend of the new Premier League season, O'Neill has reaffirmed the focus is on adding to his squad.
There will be fresh talks with Wolves this week aimed at brokering a deal for £15m-rated striker Steven Fletcher, who was left out of his employers' squad for their opening Championship defeat at Leeds United on Saturday.
And Sunderland are looking to finalise deals for Manchester City's Easington -born winger Johnson, although they could still face competition from Tottenham, Everton and Liverpool, and his club-mate John Guidetti.
But O'Neill's admiration of left-backs Martin Olsson and Stephen Warnock, from Blackburn and Aston Villa respectively, could prove crucial regarding the future of Richardson before the transfer window closes on August 31.
The former Manchester United man was superb on the left hand side of the Sunderland defence which kept Arsenal's advances at bay to secure a well-earned draw in North London on Saturday.
But Richardson, interesting Everton and West Ham United, sparked fresh doubts when he threw his shirt to Sunderland's supporters after the final whistle at the Emirates.
O'Neill admitted: “Kieran came to see me a fairly lengthy time ago - in the transfer window of last time - and I think that for family issues and what have you, he thought maybe a change would suit him. It's been ongoing but no-one has come in and made an offer. “That doesn't mean there's not anything happening - I don't know. But naturally, if he plays like that I'd like to keep him. Let us see. I've got a number of situations here. I'm trying to get players in, not losing anyone or I'd be down to about four players!”
It was satisfying for O'Neill that he was able to savour a point at Arsenal when he had to start the campaign without landing his main transfer targets and he hopes that will improve before Reading travel to the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
“I heard David Moyes saying the other day he has 13 or 14 players and I thought well done him, he's got that. That's 13 or 14 he can rely on,” said O'Neill. “We don't have it but we have a lot of spirit about us. What we lack is some quality in major positions and I actually think the quantity too.”
Fletcher and Johnson are his primary targets, with the former required to lead the Sunderland attack and the latter likely to be available from City for an initial £10m deal. Johnson's reputed £80,000-a-week wage, though, would be a stumbling block. Stephane Sessegnon was asked to perform in the central attacking role at Arsenal before new arrival Louis Saha was introduced for his debut.
“He (Fletcher) is one of a number of players that's been mentioned,” said O'Neill. “I thought there were little moments there where Louis Saha showed his class, but expecting a 33/34 year-old to play X amount of games for us is out of question. “I'm delighted to have him here but I think we need some strength-in-depth. I'm hopeful we'll be able to do something. We need to. That would be great. It's important because with each day that goes past we're getting closer to September. And at my age they're going quicker than ever!”