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O'Neill: Sunderland deals have stalled

Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill says the club have been frustrated in their attempts to strengthen their squad during the summer.

O'Neill guided the Black Cats to 13th place in the Premier League after taking over from Steve Bruce during the season, but despite being linked with moves for several players has so far added only defender Carlos Cuellar, from Aston Villa, to his ranks.

He remains keen to sign striker Steven Fletcher from Wolves, but reports suggest Sunderland have had a bid - said to be £10 million - for the Scottish international rejected by the Molineux club.

"We have made some bids for players, and we are obviously in negotiations with the football clubs at this moment," O'Neill explained.

"It seems to have stalled somewhat on all fronts, but I am hoping to improve the team - I think we have to give ourselves some sort of chance for next season. I think that's pretty obvious.

"In an ideal world, I would like the players in so they could do some work before we play against Arsenal. If that's not the case, then we will work exceptionally hard to try to get the players in before the end of the month."

He said that if the deals Sunderland were trying to do failed to materialise, "then I think you have to look elsewhere".

But he tipped Republic of Ireland winger James McClean, who made a huge impact at the Stadium of Light last season, to continue his progress.

The 23-year-old former Derry City player made his first senior appearance in O'Neill's first game in charge in December, and his form saw him called up to Giovanni Trapattoni's Euro 2012 squad.

"It is a big season for him. There is obviously always talk about second season syndrome, that type of stuff, but I don't think it will affect him," O'Neill said.

"He has come back and done exceptionally well in training here. He looks every bit as strong as he was before, and he looks every bit as determined."

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