Observers north of the border reckon Sunderland have little hope of landing Rangers centre-back David Bates, despite press reports linking the 21-year-old defender with a move to the Stadium of Light.
The boyhood ‘Gers fan is out of contract at Ibrox at the end of the season. The Daily Record led the way earlier this week to suggest Chris Coleman is monitoring the 6’4 defender’s situation as the Black Cats boss continues to seek reinforcements.
Bates is a proper old school defender and would be well suited to a Championship battle. Making his debut in the Scottish Premiership last season, the Kircaldy native has forced his way into Rangers matchday squads and continues to knock on the door for a starting berth.
The youngster may be waiting a while however with Rangers adding veteran centre-half Russell Martin on loan from Norwich for the rest of the season to offer competition to the likes of Bruno Alves and Fábio Cardoso.
Bates began his career with Raith Rovers before joining Rangers on a development loan before the move was made permanent last summer. The Bears stand to receive just a nominal compensation fee should the youngster opt not to extend his present deal.
But most Rangers observers fully expect him to stay at Ibrox and have dismissed the paper talk as a little agent ploy to influence contract negotiations.
Sunderland continue to be linked with defenders as Chris Coleman moulds his preferred three-man defensive system and the Black Cats boss will certainly be in the market for centre-backs in the summer with most of the current crop set to leave.
Veteran John O’Shea has made no announcement as to whether he expects to continue playing on after this season, but the former Manchester United man will be 37 at the end of the campaign and continues to be touted as fancying a move into coaching.
Coleman has added Jake Clarke-Salter to his squad this month with the Chelsea youngster joining fellow loanee Tyias Browning at the heart of Sunderland’s defence in recent games. Both will return to their parent clubs at the end of the season as will the other loaned defender at the club, Brendan Galloway.
Lamine Koné returned to action last night with the Under-23s after a lengthy lay-off but the Ivorian international continues to be linked with a January exit and Sunderland’s rear guard could be unrecognisable next season - whichever division the Black Cats find themselves in.