Bruce: Stoke and Birmingham ''can't afford'' Jones
Sunderland boss Steve Bruce has reacted to speculation over the future of striker Kenwyne Jones by claiming that the likes of Stoke or Birmingham couldn't afford him.
Bruce is keen to hold on to the striker who was once rated at £40 million by Roy Keane during his spell in charge at the Stadium of Light.
"We all know in football that everybody's got their price, whether you're Steven Gerrard or Cristiano Ronaldo," said the former Birmingham manager. "The one thing I want to do is try and build a squad. If something out there blows our brain, but with no disrespect to Stoke or Birmingham, can they afford him? I very much doubt it. It's not just the transfer fee but wages, all the rest of it. I just can't see it."
Jones has also been linked with the likes of Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool in the past, but Bruce has misgivings about his player's ability to perform consistently, even if he claims that the ability is there for all to see.
"On his day I think you can look at Kenwyne and say he's worth £40 million, then on another day you'll think: 'come on you'. That's Kenwyne," Bruce added. "We've got to get him to a level where with his ability, he could play in any team. I can understand what Roy was saying. The thing for Kenwyne is for him to grasp the nettle.
"To be a Chelsea player, or a Man U player, Liverpool player, what makes them stand out is they can perform at a level week in, week out.
"It's a level a lot of players find difficult to get to. They're the demands of a huge club and we've got to try and get Kenwyne like that, because when he is playing at his best, he is a fantastic footballer.
"He tests you. He tests your skills as a manager. He's a big, genuine, nice lad, an easy-going, gentle boy. It's always the challenge - to get the best out of him. The ability is there."
Meanwhile, reports suggest that Bruce will pursue the signing of Ivory Coast international Guy Demel to shore up his defence.
The Hamburg right-back would provide real competition for Phil Bardsley and, with the 28-year-old African out of contract at the Bundesliga outfit this summer, a move now looks likely in January.