With Michael Turner's move to Norwich City inching ever closer, Martin O'Neill has today revealed his decision to let the Black Cats' defender go was down to the club's reluctance to offer him a new contract.
Speaking to the Sunderland Echo, O'Neill iterated that Turner had been a solid performer since the manager arrived at the club last December, but was adamant that the club is well stocked for centre halves. With Turner's contract now having less than a year to run, and O'Neill not keen on extending it, a move to Norwich is now seen as the best option for all parties;
We have a number of centre-halves.
Since Michael came into the side under me, he's stayed in the team. But, at the moment, I was unable to offer him an extension to his contract.
Norwich came in with the promise of some extra years and it's something he wanted to look at.
The manager didn't quite rule out Turner never appearing in a red and white shirt though, adding:
But if things don't develop, then he's welcome back because he did as well as anyone in the last couple of months of the season.
As detailed yesterday, reports put the expected fee from Norwich to be in the region of £1.5m. With a spate of centre halves already on the club's books, O'Neill seems to be freeing up yet more money - both in transfer fees and wages - for when he eventually decides to spend money this transfer window.
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Though by no means a poor performer, Turner has often split opinion amongst Sunderland fans. In our poll, taken yesterday, 63% of voters felt the move represented good value for the club, with just over a third disagreeing and feeling the deal was an inadequate one.