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Europa League round of 16 draw

Europa League
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Steve Bruce denies reports of £5m offer for Chris Kirkland

Steve Bruce has spoken in glowing terms of Wigan's Chris Kirkland but denied reports he has made a £5 million offer to bring the goalkeeper to Sunderland.

Reports at the weekend claimed Kirkland was a target for Bruce, despite Sunderland possessing two goalkeepers with experience of being the club's number one choice in Marton Fulop and Craig Gordon.

Bruce managed Wigan between November 2007 and June 2009 but having signed Lee Cattermole from his former club in the summer and maintained his interest in Latics left-back Maynor Figueroa, the Sunderland manager has played down speculation he will target Kirkland.

"Talk of me bidding £5 million for Chris Kirkland is garbage but he is a very good goalkeeper and I'm a big, big admirer of him," Bruce told the Sunderland Echo.

"Some of the players I've been linked with have been ridiculous but you come to expect that in January and there's nothing we can do about that. What I will say is that we're working on one or two things and hopefully we can see them progress."

Kirkland has suffered extensively from injury problems throughout his career but has started 113 league games since joining the Latics from Liverpool, initially on loan, in October 2006. He has missed only one Premier League game this season.

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