Sunderland set to swoop for Town young star

IPSWICH TOWN: Sunderland manager Steve Bruce is planning a summer swoop to take Connor Wickham into the Premier League.

And he is looking to use his strikers Daryl Murphy and David Healy as bait.

Such is Bruce’s keenness to take Wickham, 17, that he is also believed happy to pay a transfer fee on top.

The deal might suit Keane as well as it would give him two experienced strikers at the expense of a highly promising youngster – and also give him welcome cash with which to help re-build his squad.

Bruce knows all about Wickham having seen Ipswich in action while watching his son Alex play for the Blues.

Bruce would not be drawn publicly on the extent of Sunderland’s interest, but it is on the cards that Wickham could be lining up beside another hot shot Ipswich product Darren Bent next season.

“We’re aware of the lad, he’s a very talented boy,” said Bruce today keeping his cards close to his chest.

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“But if he became available I’m sure there would be plenty of other clubs, not just us, who would like to be kept in the picture.”

Sunderland would have an advantage in any bid for Wickham as Ipswich currently have both Murphy and Healy on loan.

Ipswich have a limited funds although owner Marcus Evans has yet to agree his budget and the ‘sale’ of Wickham could be looked at as the best way of raising money.

Keane needs a positive start to next season if his job is not to be put at serious risk.

And the sale of a young player, who might not fully mature for several years, in order to bring in experienced players like Murphy and Healy, might be the most pragmatic solution to Keane’s need to hit the ground running.

Wickham signed a contract at Easter which will keep him at Portman Road until 2011 and that will allow Ipswich to demand a sizeable fee for the player.

But Bruce will be eager to get his man and the fact he has a good working relationship with Keane, has players already on loan at the club and has also sold players to Ipswich, should put Sunderland in the driving seat if Ipswich decide to sell.

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