Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland transfer rumours: Sunderland boss discusses fight to sign two forwards as Michael O'Neill looks to bring winger to Stoke


Kyle Lafferty and Liam Boyce are both attracting interest from Sunderland.
Kyle Lafferty and Liam Boyce are both attracting interest from Sunderland.
Gareth Hanna

By Gareth Hanna

Sunderland manager Phil Parkinson has spoken about his battle to sign two Northern Ireland strikers.

Both Kyle Lafferty and Liam Boyce are understood to be interesting both the Black Cats and Hearts.

However, with Parkinson's club boasting greater financial muscle, the English side are thought to be the front-runners to get their men.

Lafferty, according to the Northern Echo, was at the Academy of Light on Tuesday to hold talks with the League One side.

"Kyle is one of a number of players we have been speaking about here as a staff. He's a free agent and he's on our list," confirmed the boss.

The links have emerged despite Lafferty saying his preference was to return to former club Hearts, who are understood to be interested in bringing the forward back to aid their Scottish Premiership survival bid.

Sunderland are also said to be readying a £250,000 move to bring Boyce north this month.

Burton Albion forward Boyce is out of contract this summer and manager Nigel Clough has already admitted that his club could be forced to sell in order to avoid losing a key asset for nothing.

While Parkinson was less forthcoming about the former Cliftonville man, he wasn't shy in praising the player.

"Obviously Liam is under contract at Burton, but he's a good player and has scored goals at this level," he said. "He is a good player, but it's difficult for me to speak about him as he is under contract."

Sunderland are currently ninth in League One but are just a point off the play-off places and six away from the automatic promotion places.

The club could do with a goal-scorer as top scorer Chris Maguire is the only striker to notch more than two league goals in the first half of the season.

The Black Cats, of course, already have Northern Ireland's Will Grigg at their disposal but the 28-year-old has scored only once in the league this season, five times in all since joining the club in January.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill is keen to bring international winger Jordan Jones to Stoke City.

Having joined the Gers in the summer, Jones was sent off for a rough challenge on Celtic's Moritz Bauer at the start of September, injuring himself in the process. A few setbacks mean Jones has yet to feature since and it has been suggested that he may be sent on loan to spark his career back into action.

If Gers boss Steven Gerrard does sanction that move, O'Neill could look to swoop, although Middlesbrough are also said to be monitoring the situation.

The other Northern Ireland player potentially on the move is St Johnstone winger Matty Kennedy. Saints boss Tommy Wright has admitted that he thinks the 25-year-old will choose Aberdeen's pre-contract deal rather than the offer on the table from his current club. Kennedy has scored three Scottish Premiership goals in 18 appearances this season.

Elsewhere, Northern Ireland goalkeeper Trevor Carson has signed a new 2.5 year deal to stay at Motherwell.

Despite making his return to football after being diagnosed with Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) in November 2018, Carson has been playing second fiddle to Mark Gillespie so far this season and could have been forgiven for looking elsewhere for regular football with current Northern Ireland number one Bailey Peacock-Farrell also being denied regular game time at Burnley.

However, the 31-year-old has remained loyal to Well and boss Stephen Robinson.

”It was a no-brainer to stay with a team that is continuing to constantly improve," he said. ”I will keep working hard for the squad as we try and push in in the second half of the season and beyond.”

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