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By ESPN Staff

Chimbonda will fight for his place, claims agent

Pascal Chimbonda wants to stay at Sunderland and force his way back into the first-team reckoning, according to his agent.

The right-back - who signed a three-year deal in July when he joined for an undisclosed fee from Tottenham - has failed to figure in the Wearsiders' last four games and subsequently been linked with a move to Lyon in the January transfer window.

However, Willie McKay has insisted there has been no contact with the French champions, who last night booked their place in the last 16 of the Champions League with a 2-1 win at Fiorentina.

McKay told The Sun: "(Sunderland manager) Roy Keane picks the team but Pascal's quite happy at Sunderland and I believe he will stay in the Premier League.''

Chimbonda and El-Hadji Diouf have been named in the reserve team squad for Wednesday's trip to Sheffield United.

The French full-back and the Senegal international striker, two of three men disciplined over their attendance at Newcastle frontman Obafemi Martins' birthday party last month, are among a travelling party of 16 for the reserve League Cup fixture in Dronfield.

Chimbonda has not figured in the senior squad since the 5-0 defeat at Chelsea on November 1, while Diouf, who came off the bench that day at Stamford Bridge, has made only two appearances as a substitute in the four games which have been played since.

The two men were recruited during the summer, Chimbonda as part of the multi-million pound deal which also saw Steed Malbranque and Teemu Tainio leave Tottenham for Wearside, while Diouf made a £2.5million switch from Bolton.

Manager Roy Keane has preferred Phil Bardsley at right-back in recent weeks, while Kenwyne Jones' return from a knee injury has seen him partner Djibril Cisse in attack.

The Irishman has insisted no member of his squad is guaranteed a place in the team after another extensive summer recruitment mission which bolstered his squad to such an extent that he currently has 11 players out on loan.

Keane is looking to his strikers to fire the club up the table.

Keane said: "The potential is there on paper, particularly with Kenwyne's aerial presence and Djibril's speed behind the back four, you think they could work together, and that would be a big boost for us.

"If they could contribute at least 15, 20 goals it would be a major boost to us when you consider our leading scorer last year had seven.

"Djibril has already got five for us but it is up to the rest of the players to plug into it and give them the right service, people like Carlos Edwards coming back into the squad.

"Any team that has been successful has had people putting the ball in the back of the net, and that's something we have struggled to do over the last year or two.''

Jones carried the burden last season, scoring seven goals after his £6million switch from Southampton, and there is little doubt the knee injury which sidelined him until late last month has had a bearing on Sunderland's lack of success in front of goal.

Cisse was one of three strikers to arrive at the Stadium of Light during Keane's latest spending spree, with El-Hadji Diouf - a £2.5million acquisition from Saturday's opponents Bolton - and David Healy also coming in.

Healy has played only a bit-part to date, while Diouf too has had to remain patient in recent weeks with three appearances as a substitute in the five games since his last start at Stoke on October 29.

The Senegal international, who was one of three players disciplined for attending Newcastle striker Obafemi Martins' birthday party last month, was named in the reserve squad to face Sheffield United tonight, along with Pascal Chimbonda and Daryl Murphy.

Meanwhile, Sweden international Rade Prica could leave the club during the forthcoming transfer window.

The 28-year-old, a £2million signing from Danish side Aalborg in January last year, is yet to make a single start for the Black Cats, and the last of his six appearances as a substitute came against Chelsea on March 15.

He told the Sunderland Echo: "There were clubs interested in the summer but time ran out and nothing was agreed.

"It would be great if things could change for me here, but if not then I hope in January to get something new.''

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