Sunderland 'Closely Monitoring' Championship Midfielder
Sunderland are said to be monitoring Sheffield Wednesday midfielder, Kieran Lee, with a view to a bid for the 28-year-old in January.
According to the Sheffield Star, David Moyes has had Lee watched several times in recent weeks.
The 28-year-old central midfielder has been in good form in the Championship, bagging four goals this season. The versatile product of Manchester United's youth system featured as a full-back early in his career before switching to defensive midfield. At times, Sheffield Wednesday have pushed him further forward this season too, so his adaptability will appeal to Moyes.
However Carlos Carvalhal, head coach of Wednesday, has said speculation is "news to me".
And, in his press conference yesterday Owls boss, Carvalhal, appeared to dismiss all speculation saying:
I am happy when other clubs are interested in my players, especially big clubs, or the clubs in the Premier, but nothing more than this. Something that I know is that Kieran Lee likes working with us and he likes being at Sheffield Wednesday. It is not easy to move a player who is happy.
That said, the Portuguese coach is either a genius-master at using the Queen's language to conceal the truth, or his English teacher failed to explain the concept of double-negatives, because when pressed Carvalhal insisted:
I don’t know nothing about it.
I am not concerned about nothing.
But, with David Moyes certain to be operating on a limited budget in January, reinforcements may well be sourced from far-and-wide to add some depth to the squad. The Sunderland boss has already said that he believes he needs to add a layer of quality to his team, but a couple of 'good' signings may be his limit in that regard.
Sunderland were strongly linked with two other Championship players in the summer - Huddersfield Town striker Nahki Wells and Bristol City centre-half Aden Flint.
Wells recently rejected a new contract and Huddersfield are likely to cash-in on him in January, with £8m mooted as the required fee to lure him out of West Yorkshire. A move to a fellow second-tier club appears more likely though, with doubts over his ability to step-up to the Premier League remaining.
Sam Allardyce was strongly rumoured to be watching Flint. But the 27-year-old underwent knee surgery in the summer which put watching Premier League clubs back to monitoring him rather than bidding as they looked out for any after-effects. But, since then Flint has played in eighteen Championship games and has looked solid.
Patrick Van Aanholt: "I Am Capable Of Everything"
Sunderland left-back Patrick van Aanholt has hit back at critics who say he isn't very good defensively. Speaking to Sky Sports, the Dutchman said:
I've shown what I am capable of. I can defend and attack - I am capable of everything.
In truth, van Aanholt, who earlier in his career spent time on loan at Saturday's opponents, Leicester City, can not be accused of doubting his own ability in the face of continued doubt over his abilities as a full-back. But, in the interview he does contradict himself in trying to assert that the criticism leveled at him has had no lasting effect:
I have been criticised lots of times but I don't care. It makes me even stronger.
All those that are on my back and trying to bring me down don't help.
The 26-year-old also commented on the 'heart-scare' he suffered back in September. Van Aanholt was withdrawn from the starting eleven just fifteen minutes before kick-off at Tottenham, and is insistent that the matter is now closed, saying:
Everyone who knows me knows there is nothing wrong with me - and there is nothing wrong with my heart either.
And if at times this season Patrick van Aanholt has performed as a man who knows his place in the starting eleven is in no danger, he is fully aware of his importance to the team:
The manager has played me every single minute since the incident that day at Tottenham.
The manager has been good, he protects me and the other players.
From an observer's perspective, Patrick van Aanholt has always been a defender who needs a back-up plan around him. What he offers going forward can not be under-estimated and he is a talented footballer. The issue remains his concentration and awareness at the back - a feature Saturday's visiting manager, Claudio Ranieri and his right-flank players - Danny Simpson and Riyah Mahrez, will be fully aware of.