Sunzu quiet on future at Sunderland

SUNDERLAND target Stoppila Sunzu is keeping tight-lipped over his future, despite enjoying a trial spell on Wearside.

Reports in the African press last week suggested that Sunzu was on his way to the Stadium of Light after impressing sufficiently during a trial with the Black Cats earlier this month.

While that appears to have jumped the gun, the Zambian international is firmly on Sunderland’s radar.

The Black Cats are genuinely interested in the centre-half, who was shortlisted for African Player of the Year in 2012, and impressed at the African Cup of Nations in January.

But Sunzu is refusing to comment on a potential summer move from Congolese outfit TP Mazembe, who rate the 23-year-old in the £4million bracket. “On that next transfer move, let’s wait for now,” said Sunzu after Zambia’s World Cup qualifying draw with Lesotho – a game which Sunderland scouted.

Sunderland are unlikely to match Mazembe’s valuation of the player and manager Martin O’Neill is keen to take another look at the defender before deciding whether to pursue him on a permanent basis.

As the Echo revealed, Sunzu played in a behind-closed-doors game at the Academy of Light earlier this month, before being forced off with a swollen knee.

That knee injury prevented Sunzu playing a significant part in training and O’Neill from making a final judgment on him.

“I haven’t seen enough of him yet to make a decision on him,” said the Black Cats boss.

But the door has been left ajar for Sunzu to return for a further trial, now that the international break is out of the way.

And that may finally decide whether Sunderland’s pursuit of the player will materialise into anything concrete, as O’Neill looks to boost a central defensive department which will be stripped of the services of out-of-contract pair Matt Kilgallon and Titus Bramble, along with loanee Kader Mangane, at the end of the season.

H Martin Smith got up after being fouled by Christian Burgess to score the only goal as Sunderland U21s secured a 1-0 closed-doors friendly win over Middlesbrough.