KIERAN Richardson’s Sunderland future will be resolved in the next three weeks as the club waits to see whether West Ham and QPR firm up their interest in the unsettled utility man.
The former Manchester United star is one of the players Martin O’Neill was referring to last week when the he said he had told several of his squad the club would be prepared to listen to offers if any came in for them.
And Richardson himself is believed to be keen to bring an end to a five-year stay on Wearside in order to return to his native London.
The versatile Richardson – he has played left-back, left-wing, central midfield and deep-lying striker – was brought to Sunderland in 2007 when ex-manager Roy Keane paid Manchester United £5.5m for the England international who had failed to deliver fully on the initial promise he’d shown at Old Trafford.
He has been pretty much a first-team regular when fit during his time at the Stadium of Light but is now entering the final year of his current contract and the club are willing to let him leave providing they can recoup at least half of the money Keane originally paid for him.
The 27-year-old’s own preference is to return to the capital and both Arsenal and Fulham have also been linked with him over the course of the summer but West Ham and QPR are expected to be the clubs most likely to make an acceptable offer before the end of the current transfer window.
Meanwhile as Richardson’s potential exit approaches, team-mate Titus Bramble is hoping to extend his Sunderland future.
The defender is plans to put a disappointing season on and off the field behind him by playing his way back into Martin O’Neill’s first-team plans in the coming campaign.
The 31-year-old said: “I don’t want to go anywhere, I’m very happy here at Sunderland and if I’m playing regularly then I don’t see why I can’t stay beyond the 12 months I have left on my contract.
“It’s just a case of playing and seeing what happens.
“I’m not young any more.
“It’s a case of when you get to my age that you stay fit and play as many games as you can.
“You do get little injuries through wear and tear with age – I tore my Achilles against Everton on Boxing Day, which was a frustrating period.
“And in my first season at Sunderland I had to have a knee operation - that came at a bad time.
“Last season I got back into the team under the new manager and got injured again.
“But the manager likes me as a player and he just wants me to stay fit and help the team.”
Sunderland were today linked with Manchester City players James Milner and John Guidetti by a national radio station.
But if there was any move for either player, it would have to be on a loan basis.
As well as what would be eye-watering transfer fees, Milner in particular would be on wages far in excess of the Black Cats’ wage structure and the 26-year-old is unlikely to want to leave the league champions at this stage of his career.