Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Reading Won't Let Hunt Go on Cheap

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Reading Won't Let Hunt Go on Cheap

Article excerpt

Byline: Luke Edwards

SUNDERLAND have been warned they could face another fractious battle with Reading in their pursuit of midfielder Stephen Hunt as manager Roy Keane struggles to make his first signing of the summer.

Hunt admitted last week that he would like to move to a Premier League club following Reading's relegation to the Championship, which was perceived as a carefully worded plea to Sunderland to make an offer for him.

However, although the Black Cats are still interested in the right-winger, who they repeatedly tried to sign back in January, they are not willing to match the pounds 5m offer they made during that transfer window as they feel the Republic of Ireland international's value has fallen following relegation.

But Reading are adamant they will not be forced to sell any of their players and, having become annoyed by Sunderland's stubborn refusal to admit defeat at the start of the year - the Black Cats made three separate bids for the Irishman - the Royals could once again prove to be difficult to deal with as Keane looks to put the first block of his squad rebuilding project in place.

Reading are hoping to make an instant return to the top flight next season and manager Steve Coppell is hoping his key players, like Hunt and left-back Nicky Shorey, will stay in Berkshire despite the lure of a move to a bigger club.

He said: "We have players who obviously want to remain in the Premier League and who feel they should be playing in the Premier League, and there have been speculative phone calls and a couple of bids.

"Some players have come to me and said things along the lines of 'if anybody comes in with an offer for me then I would like to go'.

"I can understand their attitude. They have tasted the Premier League and they all want to be there, and the quick and easy way is the transfer. But we don't have to sell anybody. Players are under contract and we have no financial pressure to sell."

Coppell's words were clearly a warning to anyone who believes they might be able to get some of Reading's players on the cheap and it could be that Sunderland will have to come close to the pounds 5m they offered just over six months ago if they are going to persuade Coppell to do business before the start of the season. …

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