Sunderland boss refuses to be drawn on Blackpool target Jordan Gabriel - as two clubs battle it out for Nottingham Forest man
Sunderland boss Lee Johnson has refused to be drawn on speculation linking the Black Cats with a move for Blackpool target Jordan Gabriel.
The two clubs are understood to be battling out for the Nottingham Forest man, who has been valued at £600,000 according to reports.
It’s understood, however, any eventual fee agreed could be even higher when add-ons and certain clauses are taken into account.
It’s been reported recently that, despite Gabriel being the only recognised right-back on their books, Forest would be willing to let the 22-year-old go permanently - but only when they've brought in a replacement first.
Former Forest defender Eric Lichaj has recently returned to training with Chris Hughton’s side following a spell in Turkey. Should the 32-year-old agree a move to the City Ground, that could pave the way for Gabriel’s exit.
Sunderland are keen to bolster their options on the right-hand side of defence and have already been linked with Middlesbrough's Hayden Coulson, QPR's Todd Kane and Liverpool's Tony Gallacher.
On reports linking the Black Cats with Gabriel and Exeter City midfielder Josh Key, Johnson told Chronicle Live: “We're working really hard behind the scenes and a lot of that is to put yourself in a position where you've got the options.
“They [Key and Gabriel] are not our players and so I can't talk about them, as you know.
“You have a list, sometimes five, 10, and you've got to make sure it's a quality list and that it fits with what you're trying to do. They've got to be affordable, available and fit the club's philosophy.
“It's not easy but to be fair, I do feel like we are getting there in a couple of positions.”
Blackpool are already understood to have tabled a bid for Gabriel, who enjoyed a successful loan spell at Bloomfield Road last season.
The defender, who is understood to favour a return to the Fylde coast, made 37 appearances in all competitions to help fire the Seasiders to promotion from the third tier.
League One side Portsmouth have also been linked with Gabriel’s signature.
The Seasiders are currently short on options at right-back, following Gabriel’s return to Forest and the surprise departure of Ollie Turton to Huddersfield Town.
Trialist Mitch Clark played the second-half of Pool’s 1-0 friendly win at Carlisle United on Saturday.
The Leicester City defender, who came through the ranks at Aston Villa and has enjoyed loan spells at Port Vale, is likely to feature in tomorrow night’s game against Burnley.
Speaking to The Gazette about Clark after Saturday’s game at Brunton Park, Critchley said: “Mitch is someone who’s been with us all week.
“I’ve been aware of him for his time coming through at Aston Villa and at Leicester and he’s had a couple of loan experiences as well.
“He’s trained with us all week and he’ll play again hopefully on Tuesday. Then we’ll be in a better position to make a decision with him.
“He got 45 minutes on Saturday, we’ll see what he does again on Tuesday but I was pleased with how he did.”
The only other player in Blackpool’s squad capable of playing at right-back is Callum Connolly, who has played most of his football to date in the centre of defence and as a defensive midfielder.
Thanks for reading. If you value what we do and are able to support us, a digital subscription is just £1 for your first month. Try us today by clicking here