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By ESPN Staff

Cisse ready to commit to Sunderland

Djibril Cisse has denied he is ready to turn his back on Sunderland and follow Pascal Chimbonda and El-Hadji Diouf out of the club.

The 27-year-old Frenchman found himself the subject of speculation he is to quit Wearside for a club with European aspirations once his loan spell from Marseille comes to an end in May.

However, he has revealed he held talks with Black Cats chairman Niall Quinn last week over making the move permanent, and will make a decision once Sunderland's Premier League future becomes clearer.

He said: ''I really need to put the record straight. I spoke a week ago with the chairman about my future. We are really positive.

''We are just waiting to make sure we stay in the Premier League, then we will make a decision.''

Cisse scored his 10th goal for the club in the 1-1 draw with bitter rivals Newcastle United yesterday as he once again demonstrated his potency in a partnership with Kenwyne Jones that is still to develop fully.

He timed his run on to Dean Whitehead's through-ball to perfection to beat the offside trap by inches before slotting past keeper Steve Harper, deputising for the soon-to-be-departed Shay Given, at the second attempt.

However, Cisse's 33rd-minute effort was cancelled out from the penalty spot by Magpies counterpart Shola Ameobi with 68 minutes gone, although the Sunderland camp were less than impressed with referee Howard Webb's decision.

Newcastle defender Steven Taylor went to ground under Steed Malbranque's challenge, although contact was minimal, and Ameobi took full advantage.

Cisse said: ''I really thought I was offside for my goal, but kept going because there was no whistle. I've now seen a replay and of course I was onside.

''I got a little lucky. The keeper made a good save, but the ball came back to me.

''We should have won the game, so I am not really happy with the draw.

''Newcastle were better in the second half and put us under pressure, but we had chances to win the game and for me it was a really generous penalty.

''It was a bit harsh - Steed didn't really tackle him - but we have to accept it.''

An eagerly-anticipated contest was a classic game of two halves with the visitors, who had won the reverse fixture 2-1 in October, dominating and deservedly leading before the break, but finding themselves pinned back after it.

Both sides had chances to win the game in a flurry of activity at the death, Taylor forcing a save from Marton Fulop with a bullet header and Black Cats substitute Andy Reid blasting a left-foot drive inches wide with seconds remaining.

However, it is perhaps former Newcastle striker Michael Chopra who will run the dying moments of the game over in his head for some time to come.

With only four minutes left on the clock, the 25-year-old broke clear of Fabricio Coloccini and ran in on goal.

He opened up his body as if to shoot across Harper towards the far post, but then attempted to find the unmarked Jones in the middle and only succeeded in firing the ball beyond him.

Chopra, who still lives in his home town, may have made his existence for the next few months slightly more comfortable as a result, but the one that got away is sure to haunt him for some time.

Cisse said: ''Michael was really disappointed. He is a striker and every striker wants to score in the big game.

''He had a great chance, but decided to pass the ball and the chance was lost.

''I was surprised he tried to pass. I think he should have been more greedy. Sometimes you have to be selfish as a striker.''

The draw left Sunderland four points clear of the drop zone in 13th place and Newcastle three points worse off in 15th, and both with much work to be done in the remaining 14 games of the season.

However, the Black Cats will now turn their attention to Wednesday night's FA Cup fourth-round replay at Blackburn with Cisse battling against the ankle injury that forced him off at St James' and Jones nursing a sore knee.


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