MON: Transfers on back burner

BY foxsports • January 20, 2012

Despite being linked with a series of names in recent weeks, O'Neill has insisted the winter market has not been a priority during his spell on Wearside to date, although he revealed last Friday that he intended to sit down with owner and chairman Ellis Short this week to discuss the way forward.

Those talks have now taken place, but the Ulsterman, while conscious that there will be no further opportunity this season to bolster the group of players he inherited from Steve Bruce, has revealed no substantive plan for a recruitment drive has been drawn up.

O'Neill said: "I have had conversations with Ellis. They have not really been business-like conversations.

"If something does materialise, then that would be great. I am conscious of just about everything around here, but my only concern is we arrive at February 1 and that's it.

"We will see what develops now in the next seven, eight, nine days.

"Have I actively been pursuing any particular target? I have to say to you the answer is no at the moment."

O'Neill has hinted since joining the club that he would be happy enough to go with the squad he has if there were no additions this month.

However, an injury list which has robbed him of the likes of Wes Brown, Titus Bramble - both men have returned to training and could figure against Swansea on Saturday - Jack Colback and Matt Kilgallon in recent weeks has illustrated just how important back-up could be.

The perception has been that a striker would be the overwhelming focus with the club having lost Darren Bent, Danny Welbeck and Asamoah Gyan in the last 12 months.

Bobby Zamora and Papiss Demba Cisse, who joined arch-rivals Newcastle earlier this week, have both been linked with Sunderland, but O'Neill has dismissed claims that the latter was ever in his sights.

He said: "News was filtering through here that he had turned us down - I'm afraid we hadn't made any enquires for the player at all. Good as he is, we hadn't done so."

In the meantime, O'Neill will concentrate on the task of bouncing back from last weekend's 1-0 Premier League defeat by Chelsea, which was all the more frustrating as his side created more than enough opportunities to have claimed a draw, if not better.

He said: "I think scoring a goal is very difficult. I also added the rider last week rather comically - it wasn't that funny - that it's not that difficult either.

"You just put the ball in the net and then we can all go home and be very, very pleased with the weekend's work.

"It didn't happen. I think we can improve, but in terms of the performance, I should be absolutely delighted."

Twenty-four hours after the Black Cats left Stamford Bridge cursing their luck, Saturday's opponents set the Premier League alight with a fine 3-2 victory over Arsenal to enhance manager Brendan Rodgers blossoming reputation.

Compatriot O'Neill said: "They are doing very, very well indeed. They are playing attractively, they are playing very well and a TV audience last week saw them play brilliantly against Arsenal.

"In fact in many ways, you could say they out-Arsenaled Arsenal, and that's obviously very pleasing.

"I don't pretend to know Brendan well at all, I don't, I have met him once or twice. He's very young and he's had a great start in the Premier League.

"If this is his philosophy, it's a very attractive one and he is making his mark. It's great to see it, really great to see it."


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