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Thursday, January 10, 2008
Sunderland have no chance of signing Hunt - Coppell

Reading manager Steve Coppell insists Sunderland still have no chance of signing Stephen Hunt.

The Black Cats have had bids of 2.5million and 3million rejected and are understood to have tried again with a 4.5million offer.

But Coppell was adamant the Royals were in a strong enough position to rebuff any attempt to sign the Republic of Ireland international.

'It doesn't matter. They can come calling every day - there is no positive response from us in that direction,' he said.

Sunderland manager Roy Keane seems determined to recruit the 26-year-old but despite the former Manchester United man's revered status in Ireland Coppell is convinced Hunt would be willing to remain at the Madejski Stadium.

'The reality was that they made a bid but we would like our core players to be happy staying here,' he added.

'There are some clubs that, whether we like it or not, when they come calling then it is hard to turn it down, for the club and the player.

'But he has a really strong connection with this club. He was a free transfer from Brentford when we signed him and although there is not a debt by any means he has a good feeling about this place.'

Hunt has been outstanding this season after breaking through last term as the first-choice on the left flank.

He showed no signs the speculation was affecting his play at the weekend when he scored twice in the 2-2 draw at Spurs, where he was also captain for the first time.

But although Coppell was convinced he was still getting 100% from the player he admitted Sunderland's pursuit had been a distraction.

He said: 'He is the same old Hunty. He comes in every day and gives us his all - he is one of those lovely characters that way.

'But he can't help be affected when he leaves here. Who knows who is phoning him up? I hope he can retain his focus when he is here and when he is playing for us.'

Meanwhile, Coppell is convinced there will be no shortage of applicants to succeed Sam Allardyce despite so many bosses having been hired and then fired by Newcastle over the past few seasons.

Allardyce lasted just six months at St James' Park following a string of poor results and the home fans' taking a dislike to his long-ball style.

The former Bolton boss joins a long list of bosses who have been quickly discarded by the Magpies, which also includes Sir Bobby Robson, Graeme Souness, Ruud Gullit and Glenn Roeder.

'It won't put people off going there because it is still a club that is waiting to happen. It is that horrible potential word. If you could write in to apply for it the postman wouldn't have a bag big enough,' he added.

'There will always be people who are desperate to get that job. They have fire-power and crowd support but the record has shown that you don't fill your pension for too long there.'

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