Sunderland boss Steve Bruce has defended the club following Wigan counterpart Roberto Martinez's criticism of their pursuit of defender Maynor Figueroa.
Bruce's admiration for the player was confirmed when he attempted to take him to the Stadium of Light from his former club during the summer, and it was no surprise when the Black Cats renewed their interest earlier this month. But amid claims the Honduran had gone on strike in an attempt to engineer a £7million move, Martinez this week hit out at the "disgusting" speculation.
However, Bruce insisted the Black Cats had done everything by the book. He said: "We have tried to do things properly and tried to go through the right channels."
He added: "You have never heard me talk about Maynor Figueroa in public until now. It's obviously got into the public domain and Roberto has had his say on it, which I respect.
"It's never easy when someone wants you players. I know it at Wigan - this time last year, I lost three of them, so I know exactly what he is talking about.
"It's never easy, but it is part and parcel of when somebody wants your player, and if you do it correctly and people go through the right channels, unfortunately it does get into the media, it does cause uncertainty and I fully understand that."
Within hours of Bruce making his response, Wigan confirmed that 26-year-old Figueroa had signed an improved contract at the DW Stadium.
Sunderland remain desperate to increase their defensive resources during the remaining days of the winter transfer window, and have been persistently linked with Hamburg's Guy Demel and Aston Villa's Habib Beye. But it was further up the field that they started to make progress on Friday.
Bruce, who confirmed the club had held discussions with Middlesbrough over Adam Johnson but had not tabled a formal offer, also revealed talks with Manchester City striker Benjani Mwaruwari were under way.
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