Phil Parkinson handed boost in Sunderland hunt for central defender as Championship manager makes revealing admission

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Bristol City captain Bailey Wright is on Phil Parkinson’s Sunderland wish-list but interest is fierce in the experienced defender.

The Black Cats boss is looking to bolster several departments before the transfer window closes on January 31 including his centre-half options, with Sunderland playing three central defenders in the 3-4-3 system there is a need for strength in depth.

Wright, 27, is on the longlist of possible targets and he is expected to leave Bristol City this month, with the defender out of contract this summer.

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When asked about Sunderland interest in Kyle Lafferty, Liam Boyce and Wright, Parkinson said: “Bailey Wright is an experienced centre-half.

Grady Diangana of West Bromwich Albion battles with Bailey Wright of Bristol City.Grady Diangana of West Bromwich Albion battles with Bailey Wright of Bristol City.
Grady Diangana of West Bromwich Albion battles with Bailey Wright of Bristol City.

“These are players we’re interested in but I would imagine so are a lot of other clubs.”

Manager Lee Johnson confirmed earlier this week to Bristol Live that interest in Wright is high with the Championship club unlikely to offer the centre-back a new contract.

"Well Bailey’s out of contract at the end of the year, so at the moment, the club haven’t entered talks into a new one," said Johnson, speaking on Wednesday.

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"But I think Bailey is a fantastic human first and foremost and he is a fantastic football player and we have to decide what’s right for all parties.

"I know there’s interest in him, there is five or six clubs that have expressed their interest and it’s something that we’ll have to sit down around a table and decide exactly what the future is for that one."

Sunderland host Wycombe Wanderers at the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon in a 3pm kick-off, with the Black Cats aiming to cut the gap to the top two.

Meanwhile, Sunderland are reportedly one of four clubs keen on a deal for Rochdale midfielder Ollie Rathbone.

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Football Insider claim that Rathbone is attracting interest from a host of sides after starring for Brian Barry-Murphy's side this term.

The report suggests that the Black Cats, Blackburn, Ipswich and Portsmouth are all eyeing a move for the all-action midfielder.

Indeed, they also claim that the 23-year-old will be watched by a host of scouts when he faces Newcastle United in the FA Cup next week, after Rochdale took the Magpies to a replay.