SUNDERLAND could turn to long-time target Paul Scharner as a stop-gap this month – but nothing more.
Martin O’Neill’s predecessor Steve Bruce managed the versatile Austrian at Wigan Athletic, and tried more than once to bring him to Sunderland.
Now it has been revealed the Black Cats have enquired about him again, this time on loan from SV Hamburg.
“Sunderland want to borrow Paul,” revealed his agent, Valentin Hobel. “HSV would agree, but Paul doesn’t want any more than that.
“Paul wants to play in Hamburg next season if he can. For this he needs match practice, which would probably be at Sunderland.
“We will look for a loan deal until end of season and then return. Let’s see if the Sunderland offer works.”
Scharner joined Hamburg from West Bromwich Albion in the summer, but ruptured his knee ligaments before his debut. To date the 32-year-old has played just four times for the Bundesliga club.
Scharner’s unwillingness to commit beyond the end of the season may not necessarily put the Black Cats off. O’Neill has said that he is prepared to gamble with short-term loans and has backed his actions up with words, signing Wayne Bridge and Sotirios Krygiakos this time last year.
Scharner can play as a midfielder or centre-back, although it is in the latter role he would probably be most useful to Sunderland. They have signed players in both positions already this month, but whereas Alfred N’Diaye has hit the ground running in midfield after a permanent switch from Bursaspor, on-loan gamble Kader Mangane has arrived lacking the match fitness for Premier League football after six months playing Saudia Arabia.
Scharner has the added advantage over Mangane that he is au fait with the English game. In keeping with Sunderland’s squad in general, they are stronger in theory at centre-back than in practice.