Quinn aiming high for Sunderland signings

Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn is adamant his club is not punching above its weight as the Black Cats close in on their transfer targets.

Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn is adamant his club is not punching above its weight as the Black Cats close in on their transfer targets.

The Wearsiders have been linked with a series of high-profile targets in recent weeks with Valencia striker Diego Forlan leading the way and the likes of Jussi Jaaskelainen, Alan Smith and Paul Scholes among the names to have been mentioned.

Quinn has admitted the club's interest in Preston frontman David Nugent, but is giving little else away, other than to confirm they are taking an ambitious approach to their rebuilding programme.

He told the Sunderland Echo: "We don't think we are punching above the club's weight in taking the approach we have in appointing (manager) Roy (Keane) and being ambitious with the players we are looking to sign.

"And we believe that the club will sustain our approach over a period of time. We can't say it will - that's the gamble.

"But that's our hope, our aim and we want the rest of the footballing world to sit up and say: 'Hey, this is a big club and now it's awake.'

"You can't get a reaction like that just by hoping."

Sunderland, who have reportedly checked on Stoke defender Danny Higginbotham's availability, have a budget of around £25m to fund their bid for Premier League consolidation, although Quinn is acutely aware of the new cash which has come into the game with the latest TV deal and a series of high-profile takeovers.

He said: "We believe in Roy and we are prepared to fund that belief.

"But other clubs are doing that too, which makes it all very interesting, and that's why the game of football is as great as it is.

"There's a lot of new money coming into the Premiership, new owners and that means that there's more than just the top four for us to compete against. It's all there to be played for.

"But we feel we are at a club that can be so big that it is right for us to do this, to look to be ambitious in the transfer market."

Meanwhile, Keane will be reminded of one of his biggest disappointments in football when he sends his side out for a prestigious pre-season friendly.

The Black Cats will welcome Italian giants Juventus to the Stadium of Light on August 4 to mark the 10th anniversary of its opening.

However, while the manager will be delighted to give his players a chance to test themselves against the Serie B champions, who have made an immediate return to the top flight after being relegated in the wake of Italy's match-fixing scandal last summer, he could be forgiven for thinking about what might have been.

He scored as Manchester United fought back from a 2-0 Champions League semi-final deficit at Juve's Stadio delle Alpi in 1999 to win 3-2 and secure a final showdown with Bayern Munich.

But the combative midfielder also picked up a booking which meant he was suspended for the final in Barcelona when Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer provided the later heroics for their side to lift the trophy.

The Sunderland boss, however, was considering only the future after the game was announced.

He said: "It is fantastic that we can confirm such a high-profile game for what will hopefully be a special day for the football club to mark the 10th anniversary of the stadium."

Sunderland striker Dwight Yorke was also on target on that memorable night in Turin, and the friendly, which will take place seven days before the start of the new season, will bring back different memories for Quinn.

He scored the first league goal at the new stadium in a 3-1 win over Manchester City in August 1997 after Dutch aristocrats Ajax had helped launch the new venue.

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