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ROKER ROUNDUP: Have Rennes dropped out the race for Sunderland’s wantaway wide-man Wahbi Khazri?

In today’s roundup: an update on Wahbi Khazri; more Skulduggery; confirmation of a bid for a promising defender, and more ex-players on the move.

Your daily reminder of Sunderland news!

Rennes drop out of Khazri race?

Rennes had hoped to bring Wahbi Khazri back to Ligue 1 after his successful loan spell there last season but his wages appeared to be a sticking point, with Khazri also keen to test himself in the Champions League.

Well - the French side may have dropped out of the running to sign the Tunisian captain altogether after they signed Lyon playmaker Romain Del Castillo on a four-year deal yesterday.

The 22-year-old French under-21 international signed for a fee of €2m after two highly successful season in Ligue 2, first with Bourg-en-Bresse and then with Nîmes.

Tunisia v England: Group G - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Skulduggery AFC

Sunderland have been accused of more skulduggery, with former Newcastle United goalkeeper and current St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright complaining about Jack Ross making an illegal approach for Saints’ goalkeeping coach Paul Mathers.

Mathers recently signed a new contract at McDiarmid Park following interest in his services from Dundee United but, according to Wright, Ross had begun talks over bringing Mathers to Sunderland without the Scottish club’s permission. “I’m very disappointed but I suppose nothing should surprise you in football these days,” said Wright, who revealed that Mathers had recently agreed a new deal at McDiarmid Park following interest from Dundee United.

He added:

If it was me, the first thing I would do if I wanted to speak to another manager’s member of staff would be to pick up the phone.

Jack Ross is a new manager in the game and maybe the new breed do things differently.

The fact that he hasn’t phoned me or answered my calls tells you more about him. It’s underhand and disrespectful – to me and to the club. It’s out of order.

I would have thought a club like Sunderland would have done their business properly.

I’ve got some sympathy with Paul and can understand that he would want to speak to them but I should be the first person to know. I’m still hoping that Paul will stay. He agreed a new contract 10 days ago after interest from Dundee United, who acted with total professionalism.

Sunderland are looking for a new goalkeeping coach after parting ways with Adrian Tucker shortly after Ross’ arrival from St Mirren.

Writing in his BBC blog whilst still a player, Ross replied to a user who asked him about clubs using specialised coaches and made a point of praising Mathers:

The only experience I have had at any clubs is that of goalkeeping coaches and I am sure everyone would agree that it is a specialised position worthy of its own coach.

We are very fortunate at St Mirren to have Paul Mathers, who is one of the best around. Perhaps in an ideal world, more of these types of coaches could be employed but in the current SPL financial climate this could be at the expense of a sports scientist, second physio etc.


Sky Sports confirm Baldwin interest

Yesterday we speculated that Sunderland were the ‘big, big League One’ club that Peterborough owner Darragh MacAnthony said were interested in central defender Jack Baldwin and that appears to have been confirmed with Sky Sports claiming we have made an enquiry for the 24-year-old.

According to the report, we face competition for the defenders signature from Bolton Wanderers and they claim Phil Parkinson is hoping to nip in and steal him from under our noses - due to ‘our need to sell before we can buy’ - by tying up a deal for the defender who is valued at £250,000 next week.

For his part, Darragh MacAthony claimed on Twitter that the reason Baldwin is leaving the club is because Posh manager Steve Evans wants him sold, despite believing he is destined for higher divisions.


Former Black Cats on the move

Three former Sunderland players were on the move yesterday, as Alex Gorrin, Mika and Anthony Stokes found new clubs.

Academy product Gorrin joined SPL side Motherwell on a one-year deal after a spell in Romania. The 24-year-old Spanish midfielder was released by Sunderland back in 2014 and was quickly snapped up by Wellington Phoenix as their marquee player. Speaking at the time, Kevin Ball was sad to see him leave - but hoped he’d be back on these shores before long:

For me, it’s quite a hard moment to see him getting released without getting that opportunity, but that’s the way it is.

Now he’s going off to New Zealand and you hope in two years time, someone is bidding to bring him back to England.

If that’s the case, do I think we missed out? No, I just think that was his destiny.

Portuguese goalkeeper Mika was also on the move yesterday, as he joined Primeira Liga side Belenenses on a one-year deal. The 27-year-old was released by Sunderland back in January without making an appearance for the club and had a short spell at Third Division União de Leiria but will now be hoping to resurrect his career in the Portuguese top flight after a couple of seasons without playing.

Finally, former Sunderland striker Anthony Stokes has linked up with former Sunderland defender Alan Stubbs at St Mirren. Stokes is currently training with Jack Ross’ old club as he’s a free agent after being released by Greek Super League side Apollon Smyrni.

Athlone Town v Sunderland - Pre Season Friendly Photo by Patrick Bolger/Getty Images