Sunderland weighing up Isaac Lihadji transfer decision - while Man Utd deal close

Sunderland are close to a transfer breakthrough but could be about to see winger Isaac Lihadji depart

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Tony Mowbray has confirmed that Isaac Lihadji was withdrawn from Sunderland's starting XI at Hartlepool United due to transfer interest in the winger.

Lihadji has been linked with a move to Qatari side Al-Duhail FC over the summer and talks are continuing ahead of the beginning of the Championship campaign.

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He had been due to start the 5-2 defeat at Hartlepool but was withdrawn late in the day.

Sunderland defender Luke O'Nien was also absent from the squad, but Mowbray said it was due to a minor personal issue and he expects him to be available for the weekend.

Lihadji has featured throughout pre season but has struggled to break into the starting XI since his arrival in January and if an acceptable fee is offered, Sunderland could sanction his departure in the coming days and weeks.

“Lihadji was left out because there’s some discussions at the moment about his future," Mowbray said.

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"They are ongoing, so let’s wait and see how that pans out. He was going to play in the starting line-up tonight, but we took him out. It was quite late, after we’d done the training session in preparation for this game, the team changed.

“I don’t know the extent of it, but I think it’s got something to do with that [Qatar interest]. Whether that pans out or doesn’t pan out, I honestly don’t know. Lihadji at this moment is a young boy at our football club, trying to make an inroad.

"He’s not going to impact too much onto the first-team starting set-up at this moment, he’s just one of the young boys that’s trying to break through. He’s got bags and bags of talent, but let’s wait and see what the next few days brings.”

Mowbray also confirmed that a deal for Manchester United goalkeeper Nathan Bishop is close. The broad framework of a deal has been agreed and Bishop is expected to link up with his new team mates ahead of the Championship campaign after returning from United's tour of the US.

Sunderland youngster Matty Young started the game at Hartlepool United, but was withdrawn at half time due to concussion after making an excellent save midway through the first half.