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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jan 15, 2009

Sbragia would walk if Sunderland sell Jones

Ricky Sbragia has admitted he would walk out of Sunderland rather than sell his best players as Tottenham Hotspur launched a £15million pursuit of striker Kenwyne Jones.

The 52-year-old Scot arrived at work this morning to read reports that Spurs had turned their attention to the Trinidad and Tobago international, while Hull City have tabled an offer for skipper Dean Whitehead.

However, Sbragia told both clubs to forget it and insisted he will not countenance any bids for his key men as he attempts to drag his side away from the Premier League drop zone.

Predecessor Roy Keane voiced the opinion last season that Jones, a £6million signing from Southampton during the summer of 2007, was worth more like £40million.

However, Sbragia is adamant he is not for sale at any price.

He said: ''As far as I am concerned, there is no price because I need him - I need all the players I can get. If I go and sell my best players, I would be better walking, I would be better going out of the door, it's as simple as that.

''I came into the job to try to keep Sunderland up and try to move up the table, and there's one thing I won't do, sell my players.''

Spurs boss Harry Redknapp, who worked with Jones briefly on the south coast, has been nothing if not aggressive in his efforts to buy his way out of trouble with the Londoners having slipped back into the bottom three at the weekend.

He has already splashed out £15million to buy back striker Jermain Defoe from Portsmouth, and tabled at least two sizeable bids for Middlesbrough winger Stewart Downing despite the Teessiders' stubborn resistance.

If it has anything to do with Sbragia, he will make little headway with Jones, although the Black Cats boss is hoping last season's leading scorer will not be unsettled by the speculation with the Wearsiders only three points better off than Tottenham.

He said: ''I just can't see the point of selling my best centre-forward - or one of them - to a club that's in the same position as us. As far as I am concerned, it was always going to be a 'no', and it always will be a 'no'.

''Whatever Tottenham may do might unsettle the player, that could be a problem. But it's just going to be 'no', it's as simple as that. He is an important member of the team, he is now hitting form, he is scoring goals and Sunderland Football Club need him here.''

Hull boss Phil Brown revealed after Wednesday night's 1-0 FA Cup third-round replay victory at Newcastle that he had made an offer for 27-year-old Whitehead, something he did not mention to his Sunderland counterpart when the pair spoke yesterday over Paul McShane's recall from his loan spell at the KC Stadium.

However, had he done so, the answer would not have been the one he wanted to hear.

Sbragia said: ''At the end of the day, I spoke to him about Paul yesterday and that was as far as it went. Dean won't be going anywhere, it's as simple as that.''

Sunderland's search for defensive reinforcements is ongoing, but Sbragia has insisted McShane has a role to play at the Stadium of Light whether or not that ultimately proves successful, and confirmed the 23-year-old Republic of Ireland international would not be sent out on loan again.

He said: ''No, not at all. The good thing about Paul is he can play right-back or centre-back, so I have definitely got the cover.

''He seems okay about it. I spoke to him about three weeks ago just to find out how he was and how things were going, and he was obviously loving it because he is playing week in, week out.

''But I felt it was just the right time now to bring him back.''

Meanwhile, midfielder Liam Miller has left Sunderalnd and joined QPR for an undisclosed fee.

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