Sunderland have added credence to rumours suggesting they are interested in signing Manchester City midfielder Stephen Ireland.
However, assistant manager Eric Black accepts that the player’s wage demands could stop a transfer being agreed.
Ireland struggled to hold down a regular first-team spot at Eastlands last term, since when Roberto Mancini has added Yaya Toure, David Silva and Jerome Boateng to his squad.
Black Cats boss Steve Bruce said earlier in the week that he was hoping to announce at least two new signings shortly and now Black has said:“It would be wonderful to bring a player like Stephen Ireland to the club.
“I think everybody is aware of how good a player he is, but we have a certain level of salary, which his probably exceeds.”
He said:“If you ask me who has caught my eye most and who has been most impressive since coming back, I’d have to say that the two names which spring to mind might surprise a few.
“Anton Ferdinand and Phil Bardsley have come back in absolutely superb condition and that’s a real tribute to them, given there was talk of them potentially moving on at the end of last season.
“It shows just the sort of attitude and determination a manager looks for.
“Maybe they read about the possibility they would be allowed to leave and decided that they would go away and return in peak condition and give it their best shot to stay part of it at Sunderland.
“Whether that’s the case or not, you’ve got to compliment them for showing exactly the right sort of attitude.”