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Sunderland play down Sessegnon exit reports
SUNDERLAND have played down reports that Stephane Sessegnon is set to leave after Tottenham became the latest club to be linked with a move for the striker.
One bookmaker yesterday suspended betting on Sessegnon swapping Wearside for north London, but the Black Cats were quick to play down suggestions their star man is about to leave.
The striker, who is currently on holiday in Benin, has been linked with a move away from the Stadium of Light for several months after it was reported his family had failed to settle on Wearside and had moved back to Paris.
However, Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill has maintained he wants to keep the Benin international and a source close to the club last night reiterated the Black Cats will fight to keep their star man.
Premier League champions Manchester City and Arsenal have also been linked with a move for Sessegnon, who scored eight goals last season.
But now, it appears Spurs have entered the frame and despite the fact chairman Daniel Levy is yet to replace Harry Redknapp, who was sacked earlier this month, a bid could still be made.
The north London club were close to agreeing a deal to sign Belgium defender and Newcastle target Jan Vertonghen prior to Redknapp's dismissal, but both the club and player insist the transfer will go through.
Spurs' neighbours at the Emirates are also said to be monitoring Sessegnon's situation, but having already signed Lukas Podolski and on the verge of bringing French striker Olivier Giroud to the club, Spurs have become front runners to sign the Benin international.
It remains to be seen whether Sessegnon will be a Sunderland player when the opening day of the new Premier League season arrives, but after the fixtures were announced yesterday, the club announced they have received an influx of season card applications.
The Black Cats begin the new season at Arsenal on August 18, before getting their home campaign under way against newcomers Reading at the Stadium of Light on August 25.
Chief executive Margaret Byrne revealed the sales figures ahead of the new season are encouraging and the club hope the applications will continue to come in over the summer.
She said: "We naturally see an increase in enquiries once the season has structure and people can work matches around their holidays and other commitments but we're delighted with what we've seen today.
"We're currently looking at our highest levels of season cards since the club returned to the Premier League in 2007 and that indicates just how much people are behind Martin O'Neill and the team. We're all immensely excited about the new season."
• Season cards can be purchased online at the club's official website, www.safc.com, by telephone on 0871 911 1973 or in-person at the Stadium of Light ticket office.