SUNDERLAND have rejected Sheffield Wednesday’s attempt to sign Connor Wickham on loan.
Manager Martin O’Neill has confirmed the Owls’ interest but indicated he will not be letting the England Under 21 striker go before next Thursday’s loan deadline.
It is a blow for Dave Jones but the Wednesday boss will turn to others on his list of “three or four” targets.
O’Neill also denied reports that the clubs had not been able to agree on the payment of Wickham’s wages.
He explained: “Sheffield Wednesday did make an approach for him and apparently it was reported that we couldn’t agree the wage structure, but nothing could be further from the truth. I didn’t know about that claim and I wouldn’t have been party to that.
“The reality is that I was asked by our chief executive if I would be prepared to let a deal go through and I said that we couldn’t afford to let anyone go.
“We had just let David Meyler out to get games [with Hull] and I don’t like to let players go out in pairs if they’re on the fringes of the first team.
“In terms of Connor, it could have been on a few weeks ago when Sheffield Wednesday first got in touch. But we have a spate of games coming up here which he would miss and we don’t have the back-up to allow him to do that.”
The 19-year-old has had only one taste of Sunderland first-team football this season - as an 89th-minute substitute at Everton last week.
O’Neill added: “In an ideal world it would have been great for him to get a game, get sharper and gain more experience. But we will have to see what transpires here first.
“We will let him fight here and see what the next few months bring him, because things can change very quickly. One week you can be looking at one situation and the next week a completely different one. Connor hasn’t really featured for us so far but that doesn’t mean that he won’t.”