West Bromwich Albion are hoping to avoid a second ‘defeat’ in the space of a few days at Southampton’s hands as they chase Manchester City winger Scott Sinclair.
The Saints have rivalled them for several weeks in the pursuit of the former England Under-21 international and -- in the wake of their 1-0 opening-day victory at The Hawthorns -- flexed their financial muscle by making Italy striker Pablo Osvaldo their record signing for £15 million.
Albion are unable to compete with that level of spending, and will be monitoring reports on Wednesday that the Saints are now considering a permanent £6 million deal for a player who has rarely figured at the Etihad Stadium.
ESPN has been told that The Hawthorns board are prepared to invest £2 million for the loan of Sinclair for the season but negotiations have stalled because they don’t want to commit to a guaranteed £4 million next summer to make him their player outright.
They believe City should recognise a depreciation in the 24-year-old’s value as he started only three games for them last season and came on as a substitute in 12 others after joining them from Swansea for £6 million in 2012.
Albion head coach Steve Clarke does not hold out much hope of having an alternative target in the form of Chelsea’s Victor Moses -- the subject of some transfer speculation in the Midlands. Clarke knows well that his former boss Jose Mourinho likes wingers and has a shortage of natural width in the squad he has inherited at Stamford Bridge.
The Scot is confident recent captures Diego Lugano and Matej Vydra will be pushing more strongly for inclusion in this Saturday’s game at Everton.
Lugano, the Uruguay captain, was not part of the 18 against Southampton while Vydra -- a hit with Watford last season with his 22 goals -- went on for only the final few minutes.
“Diego was a bit behind in his physical preparation and had been to Japan in the week, so I left him out completely,” Clarke said. “The Southampton manager made the same decision with [defender Maya] Yoshida.
“Matej Vydra had his medical here and went away with the Czech Republic, then I saw him for 20 minutes having a stretch on Thursday and he did 45 minutes on the Friday. He has done a full pre-season with Udinese and I thought he looked quite bright when he went on (against Southampton). He will soon be up to speed.”