Sunderland transfer target Fletcher has his price

Steven Fletcher
Steven Fletcher

NEW WOLVES boss Stale Solbakken admits every player has their price despite rejecting Sunderland’s £10million offer for Steven Fletcher.

Sunderland saw their £10m bid for striker Fletcher turned down by the Championship outfit earlier this week, with the Black Cats are now considering whether to make a fresh move for the 25-year-old.

Despite Fletcher’s eagerness to remain in the Premier League, Wolves are desperate to keep the Scot at Molineux – believing he offers the best chance of returning to the top flight at the first time of asking.

Financially, Wolves are secure and only a bid that totals at least £12m is likely to tempt them into offloading their top scorer from the last two seasons.

Solbakken, who succeeded caretaker boss Terry Connor earlier this summer, says he is planning for Fletcher to be a key member of the side, although he acknowledges that Wolves face a battle to keep the former Burnley and Hibs frontman before the transfer window shuts at the end of the month.

“We’re looking all the time at targets, but you don’t replace Fletcher overnight – that’s impossible,” said Solbakken.

“It’s a long, long month now coming up, but at the moment he’s a Wolves player and we’re planning with him.

“Everybody at Wolves wants to keep him. But even Lionel Messi has a price.”

l PHIL Bardsely will join African pair Stephane Sessegnon and Ahmed Elmohamady in missing Saturday’s friendly against Helsingborgs after sustaining a fresh ankle injury. Bardsley suffered severe bruising to his ankle on just the second day of pre-season training and was ruled out of Sunderland’s trip to South Korea last month.

The 27-year-old returned to training earlier this week, but is now suffering from a fresh problem with his ankle which will scupper the right-back’s planned participation against the Swedish champions.

Bardsley will remain in the North East, as will Sessegnon and Elmohamady, who are not featuring due to visa issues.

Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill told SportMail: “Just when we thought Phil might be fit for this weekend, it now looks as though that won’t be the case.

“He was doing well but then he had a setback on Monday. He went out and did some training but complained that there was a problem with the outside of his ankle, which was a new thing.

“He’s obviously a bit down about it, although over the last couple of days he has started to improve again.”

Sessegnon and Elmohamady returned to training on Monday, along with John O’Shea, Seb Larsson and James McClean, after the quintet were given a fortnight’s extra leave following their international exertions during the summer.

But Benin’s Sessegnon and Egypt’s Elmohamady both require visas to travel to Sweden and O’Neill did not want them to miss a day’s training travelling to London to complete the required paperwork.

That means the pair will go into the season with a maximum of two pre-season outings under their belt, assuming they feature in next week’s East Midlands clashes against Derby and Leicester.

But O’Neill said: “I’m not overly concerned about that. They were still playing matches in mid-June and you need to give them a bit of time off because otherwise it will catch up with them.”

Summer signing Carlos Cuellar will return to action in Sweden though after shaking off the thigh problem sustained in Sunderland’s second Peace Cup encounter – an injury which ruled him out of last week’s defeat to Hartlepool United.

“Carlos has trained for the last few days and he will feature on Saturday,” said O’Neill.

“I think he was worried about the injury when it happened, but it seems as though he came off as a precaution more than anything.”

Meanwhile, Cuellar’s fellow centre-half Wes Brown could return to training as early as next week.

A scan last week showed Brown had sustained no significant damage to his knee after initial fears that he was facing a lengthy lay-off from the problem sustained in Korea.

But while the Helsingborgs clash and Wednesday’s trip to Derby come too early for Brown, the 32-year-old is in contention to play in the Premier League dress rehearsal at Leicester City a week on Saturday.

O’Neill added: “Wes’ injury that he sustained out in Korea isn’t as serious as we first thought, which is great news. I think he might be joining in with us for training next week.

“I don’t think he will play in the first game on Wednesday against Derby, but there is a possibility of him being involved at Leicester on the Saturday.”