Full-back search goes on for Sunderland

Manuel Fernandes, of Besiktas, is a reported target for Sunderland.
Manuel Fernandes, of Besiktas, is a reported target for Sunderland.

SUNDERLAND’S search for new blood at full-back looks set to continue with Valencia defender Aly Cissokho reported to have agreed terms with Liverpool.

The Black Cats made an enquiry for Cissokho last month after being frustrated in their attempts to bring a new left-back to the Stadium of Light this summer.

Sunderland saw their hopes of re-signing last season’s loan success Danny Rose blocked by Spurs, France Under-19 international Benjamin Mendy opted to join Marseille and then Argentine defender Lucas Orban tested the Black Cats’ patience before ultimately agreeing a four-year deal at Bordeaux.

Frenchman Cissokho was mooted as a possible option and Sunderland are understood to have made contact with Valencia over taking the 25-year-old on a season-long loan.

But Liverpool have also been in the race for Cissokho’s signature and there were widespread reports in Spain yesterday that the former Lyon man has agreed terms on a move to Anfield.

It leaves Sunderland still looking to add a specialist full-back to the squad with just a fortnight remaining until the opening Premier League encounter against Fulham.

Right-back has proved as problematic to fill as left-back, with Argentina international Gino Peruzzi failing a medical due to knee ligament damage.

Out-of-favour Phil Bardsley is technically the only orthodox full-back on the club’s books, although the former Manchester United man, who has been training with Sunderland’s Under-21s, is expected to join Fulham.

Midfielders Jack Colback and Craig Gardner have been deployed as makeshift full-backs during pre-season, but even they present a headache for Paolo Di Canio, with the latter missing the Premier League opener through suspension.

Head coach Di Canio is also eager to add a midfield playmaker before the transfer window slams shut, with Besiktas’ Manuel Fernandes linked with Sunderland in the Turkish press this week.

Fernandes, who has had loan spells at Portsmouth and Everton, would fit the bill of adding creativity in the middle of the park and has just a year remaining on his contract in Turkey.

But new Besiktas boss Slaven Bilic has insisted that Fernandes is an integral part of his plans, with the club hoping to persuade the Portugal international to pen a new deal.

Bilic said: “He is good all over the pitch and he has authority.

“Of course he can play better, like every other player, but he is our main man.”