Football

Black Cats rule out star sale

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Sunderland manager Ricky Sbragia is determined to keep his better players as he builds the squad he wants.

The 52-year-old has admitted there are likely to be departures as well as arrivals during the winter transfer window, he intends to retain all the club's biggest names.

He said: "We have got a big squad - we have got something like 37 pros. We have a big squad, so it is very difficult to manage and keep them all happy. But the one thing we don't want to do is get rid of our better players."

Full-back Pascal Chimbonda has been linked with a loan move to his former club Tottenham, while striker El-Hadji Diouf did little to quell speculation that he is a target for both Bolton and Blackburn after the 2-1 FA Cup third-round victory over Wanderers, who sold him to the Black Cats during the summer.

However, it is understood the Wearsiders have no interest in allowing Chimbonda to leave, temporarily or otherwise, while Sbragia insisted on Friday that the Senegal international remains part of his plans.

Both Chimbonda and Diouf returned to the starting line-up at the weekend, for the first time since the 1-0 defeat at Manchester United on December 6 in Sbragia's first match at the helm.

However, the pair have struggled to establish themselves since losing their places under former boss Roy Keane, leading to rumours that they could both leave this month.

Chimbonda, who arrived from White Hart Lane in a joint deal with Teemu Tainio and Steed Malbranque, had previously been linked with French side Lyon, although his agent, Roger Boli, has revealed the potential move will not now happen.

Diouf, a £2.5million signing from Bolton, indicated at the weekend that he would be happy to stay on Wearside provided he becomes more involved.

He said: "I have had a brief chat with Ricky, but I want to have a longer conversation with him, and I'm just waiting to see what happens next. Maybe I will go, maybe I will stay."

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

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Topics:
Tottenham Hotspur
Sunderland
Internationals
Football
Blackburn Rovers
Bolton Wanderers
El-Hadji Diouf
Manchester United
Roy Keane
Teemu Tainio
Steed Malbranque
Pascal Chimbonda

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