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Roker Roundup: Alim Ozturk finds a new home; & Sunderland ‘targets’ wanted by other clubs

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Former Sunderland defender Alim Ozturk has found himself a new club back in his favourite place on Earth; and reports suggest a number of apparent Sunderland targets are wanted by other clubs.

Roker Roundup 20/21
Your daily reminder of Sunderland news!

Duo move for Sunderland ‘targets’

Hull City have reportedly had an offer turned down for Sunderland target Oli Rathbone according to reports.

Football Insider claim Rochdale rejected Hull’s offer for the midfielder and are holding out for a more lucrative offer for a player who is also said to be interesting Sunderland, Fleetwood Town and Oxford United.

Football Insider also say that Huddersfield Town are chasing a loan deal for Manchester United midfielder James Garner.

Garner had been close to a loan move to Sunderland in January but instead remained at Old Trafford and now Huddersfeld have reportedly opened talks about taking the player to the John Smith’s Stadium ahead of the new season.

Rochdale v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Academy product on the move

Sam Greenwood left Sunderland to join the Arsenal youth set-up in 2018 and, after two successful years with the London club, he could be set to move on again.

The Athletic claim that Leeds United are keen to add the 18-year-old striker to their under-23 set up, with The Telegraph going further and saying that Leeds will pay an initial £1.5m for the England youth player rising to a potential £3m. Manchester United, AC Milan and Juventus are also showing interest in Greenwood.

Meanwhile, Leeds midfielder Kalvin Phillips was called up to Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the first time yesterday after his stellar performances in the club’s promotion season.

Phillips started out at Wortley Juniors and his former coach Ian Thackray explained to the Yorkshire Evening Post how many clubs passed on him, including Sunderland, before Leeds eventually secured his signature:

Bradford City must be kicking themselves because they watched him three or four times. They didn’t seem to be interested because he wasn’t quick.

That seemed to be the thing. If they couldn’t run like the wind then they weren’t interested. I used to tell them that if they came back the following day he’d still be there running around because he was like the Duracell bunny.

A lot of the other clubs we used to play were amazed at how nobody had taken him. Newcastle, Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Huddersfield all came – Bradford were there three or four times.

Leeds even watched him as a 10 or 11-year-old but he just didn’t seem to fit what they wanted.


Target not thinking about future

Reported Sunderland target Adam Le Fondre says he is not thinking about his future as he prepares to play in the A-League finals with Sydney FC.

Speaking to FTBL, Le Fondre said that he would be doing a huge disservice to his team if he started thinking about next season before he finished this season with his current club:

I’ve not even thought about next season and I’m just solely concentrating on what’s happening now.

I think it would be amiss of me to start thinking of future stuff when I’ve got potentially two massive games in front of me.

I’d be doing a disservice to the boys and the coaching staff and the club if I start thinking about other things than what’s right in front of me right now.

His manager at Sydney, Steve Corica, wants the striker to stay at his club but understands players having doubts over their futures due to uncertainty over when next season will take place:

Of course we want him to stay - he’s (our) leading goalscorer, he’s been that for us for the last couple of seasons but I think a lot of players have got doubt in their minds - what’s happening next season, no-one really knows what’s going on with the CBA and even when we start next season.

So obviously that would be in the back of all players’ minds I think at the moment but it’s something we can’t control right now. What we can control is concentrating (on our games).

A-League Rd 27 - Adelaide v Sydney Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Former players in the news

Alim Ozturk was released by Sunderland back in June after the expiration of his contract, ending a two-year spell on Wearside.

The 27-year-old looks to have found a new club ahead of the upcoming season as reports in Turkey suggest that he has reached an agreement with second division Turkish side Umraniysspor.

Tommy Smith was also released earlier in the year and has now signed for Colchester United.

The New Zealand international had been on trial with the club but had also been recently linked with Hearts and Kerala Blasters but has instead signed a two-year deal with the League Two side.

Former Sunderland duo Asamoah Gyan and Sulley Muntari may link up once again at Asante Kotoko in their native Ghana.

The Porcupine Warriors were once partnered with Sunderland and now may bring in the veteran former Sunderland players, according to reports.

Gyan is looking for a new club after leaving Indian side North East United and his business manager Samuel Anim Addo told Graphic Sports that the striker is open to a move to the club:

Kotoko have said they like him because he once stated that he’ll one day play for Kotoko, but for now, no club has approached him with any offer.

Gyan has had offers from Europe and Asia but if Kotoko can meet our terms, then why not?

Meanwhile Muntari mentioned on Instagram Live that he would love to retire with the Kumasi-based club:

I love Kotoko. They tried signing me when l was a young player in Kumasi, I would love to retire with them, but l would not rule out Hearts, RTU [Real Tamale United], King Faisal or Liberty Professionals.

Ex-Sunderland defender Matt Kilgallon has signed for Northern Premier League outfit Buxton. The 36-year-old spent last season with Indian Super League side Hyderabad.

Dean Whitehead has become assistant manager to Sam Ricketts at Sunderland’s League One rivals Shrewsbury Town.

The former Sunderland midfielder replaces Graham Barrow in the role and Ricketts told BBC Shropshire why Whitehead was right for the role:

Dean Whitehead will step up. Myself and Dean, we’ll be the coaching element of the backroom staff.

He has got great experience as a player and has worked as a coach under a number of great managers.

Sunderland v Wigan Athletic - Premier League Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images