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O'Neill holds talks with Saha
HE has had to be patient in his search for a striker this summer, but Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill could be on the verge of a breakthrough after holding talks with Louis Saha yesterday.
Saha, who is a free agent after leaving Tottenham at the end of last season, was on Wearside yesterday to discuss a potential move to the Stadium of Light.
O'Neill's attempts to sign a new striker have proved fruitless so far after Wolves rejected the Black Cats latest bid - believed to be in the region of £11-12 million - for Steven Fletcher on Tuesday.
After the departure of Nicklas Bendtner, who returned to Arsenal following the conclusion of his season-long loan and the transfer of Asamoah Gyan to Al-Ain, O'Neill has been left short in the striking department.
Although the capture of Saha would ease those worries, it is understood the Frenchman's arrival would not mean the end of Sunderland's interest in Fletcher, who made his intentions to stay in the Premier League clear by handing in a transfer request last week.
However, after Wolves chief executive Jez Moxey spoke out about Fletcher's future on Tuesday, it appears the two clubs are still some way apart in terms of a valuation for the player.
That appears to have forced O'Neill to look at other targets and Saha has already been linked with the club this summer.
The former Newcastle United forward hinted he would be interest in joining the Black Cats in June, but revealed he had offers from other clubs both in England and Europe.
"I would consider going to Sunderland," Saha said in June. "Anything can happen in the transfer market, though, it's always a tense time. It's all about making the right choices and the nice thing is to have options."
The 34-year-old would provide another option for O'Neill, who is desperate to sign at least one forward capable of scoring 15-plus goals a season in the Premier League.
Although his career has been blighted by serious injury, the former Everton and Manchester United man would offer the Black Cats valuable experience.
The 34-year-old scored four times in six appearances for Spurs last season after joining from Everton in the January transfer window and the season before he scored ten goals in 27 appearances.
As things stand, O'Neill has Stephane Sessegnon, Fraizer Campbell, Connor Wickham and Ji Dong-Won at his disposal, but his team selections last season suggested he is not ready to rely on the latter two just yet.
The Black Cats boss revealed a few weeks ago that the arrival of one or two strikers could mean letting either Ji or Wickham head out on loan.
Both strikers have failed to make an impact since arriving on Wearside and O'Neill admitted loan moves would be an option to give them more match practise.
While speculation continues over the arrival of new players on Wearside, O'Neill's squad are busy preparing for their Premier League opener against Arsenal at the Emirates on Saturday.
Whether a new face arrives before the big kick-off remains to be seen, but midfielder Jack Colback reveals potential new team-mates isn't a topic of conversation in the dressing room.
"It doesn't really get spoken about at all," Colback said. "As players there's that much speculation going on you can't really read anything into it.
"We just get on with training and playing games and whoever comes in we just get on with it from there.
"That's how football is. Names get thrown about everywhere. It's always exciting for the fans but as players you've just got to try and ignore it."
Sunderland were drawn at home to League Two outfit Morecambe in the second round of the Capital One Cup yesterday.
Morecambe overcame Championship side Blackpool 2-1 at Bloomfield Road at the weekend and they will travel to the Stadium of Light the week commencing August 27.