Black Cats to offer deal to free agent

NEW DEAL ... James McFadden could return to Sunderland.
NEW DEAL ... James McFadden could return to Sunderland.

SUNDERLAND are considering offering James McFadden a new short-term deal after a planned move to Nottingham Forest fell through for the Scot.

The veteran former Everton and Scotland midfielder was in the process of linking up with the Championship side when he fell victim to the debacle surrounding countryman Alex McLeish, who walked out of the City Ground earlier this month.

McLeish was infuriated promises over transfer funds from the club’s owners were not kept, but had lined up McFadden, pictured, as part of his bid to make a late push for the play-offs before walking out after only 40 days in charge.

With the 29-year-old now in limbo, Sunderland are weighing up whether or not to go back to their original plan of offering a short-term contract to the player before loaning him out to the Championship to get him first-team football.

McFadden had left to sort out a new club – Aberdeen and Motherwell also credited with interest, as well as Forest.

But he may well be receptive to Sunderland’s original suggestion, now that the Forest move has fallen through.

Martin O’Neill told the Gazette: “We let James’s situation run past the transfer deadline, and I think he went down to Nottingham Forest before McLeish departed.

“Obviously, events have changed that situation, and I don’t know what’s happened since then.

“I’ll speak to the agent though, and see where we stand.”

McFadden joined Sunderland on a short-term deal in September, but could not force his way into the side despite impressing in training.

And the Black Cats suggested extending his contract in January before loaning him out for a regular run of games so they could properly assess his fitness and sharpness.

McFadden proved an excellent utility player for Everton and Birmingham.

But after rejoining and then being released by Everton in the 2011/12 season, McFadden has barely featured in terms of first-team action.

He appeared in three games for the Black Cats as a substitute before choosing to move on last month, but might now welcome renewed interest from Sunderland.

O’Neill rates the ex-Everton player’s ability, but knows question marks exist over his fitness after a troublesome injury record in recent seasons.

And if the Black Cats do link up with McFadden again, O’Neill would hope he can recapture his very best form on loan and return to strengthen Sunderland’s squad options.