Miller for Black Cats?

SUNDERLAND are ready to offer Tommy Miller a return home and Premiership football.The Black Cats have already been linked with a move for Shekfi Kuqi and Darren Bent, with the Finn the more likely target of the two strikers.

SUNDERLAND are ready to offer Tommy Miller a return home and Premiership football.

The Black Cats have already been linked with a move for Shekfi Kuqi and Darren Bent, with the Finn the more likely target of the two strikers.

At around £3m, England Under-21 international Bent could be out of their reach, with Mick McCarthy not getting as big a budget as he thought he might have done after winning promotion.

McCarthy has £6m to play with and will look for mainly free transfers to strengthen his squad.

Ipswich duo Miller and Kuqi are both out-of-contract free agents and north-east sources believe they would fit the Stadium of Light bill, with Brian Deane departed along with Marcus Stewart, and Waterford's Daryl Murphy close to signing for around £100,000.

Miller, who was born in Easington just outside Sunderland, played for Hartlepool before joining Ipswich but has never played at the Stadium of Light, with injuries keeping him out of the Blues' visits there.

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The Mackems have released central midfielders Sean Thornton and Jeff Whitley and Miller is seen by McCarthy as ideal to fill the role, a position he is keen to play more of.

Kuqi, who has been included in the Finland squad to play Holland in a World Cup qualifier next month, has caught the eye of Premiership sides Fulham, Bolton and Birmingham, with a number of foreign clubs also believed to be keen on the 28-year-old.

The duo, along with Fabian Wilnis, Jim Magilton and Drissa Diallo, are all due to hold talks with Blues boss Joe Royle today after the manager last night returned to Ipswich after spending a week in Majorca.

Bent has been linked with Charlton, Aston Villa and Manchester City but no offers have been tabled since last August when the Addicks would not up their initial £2m bid.

Their interest appears to have cooled, with Alan Curbishley now looking at a striker in Italy and Norwich's Leon McKenzie.

Ipswich have been linked with Luton striker Chris Coyne and Tranmere midfielder Iain Hume but as both would involve a transfer fee, that rules out any move by the Blues.

n Ipswich Town have dismissed suggestions that a second share issue is imminent and will be discussed at a board meeting later this week.

Blues' spokesman Terry Baxter last night said: "Without definitely ruling out the possibility of a further share issue at some point in the future, and a straw poll taken at last November's AGM, suggesting shareholders would support such a move, there are no immediate plans for Ipswich Town Football Club to launch an offer of shares."

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