SUNDERLAND are ready to fight off late transfer window interest in Connor Wickham despite the length of time it has taken the striker to sign a new contract at the Stadium of Light.

Wickham has entered the final 12 months of his existing deal and just a fortnight ago Poyet told The Northern Echo that he was ready to listen to offers for him if there was a lack of progress in negotiations.

But the Sunderland manager, knowing there is now less than two weeks remaining of the summer deadline, is getting to the stage where he does not want to lose any more members of the squad because he will not have enough time to replace them.

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That extends to Wickham, although Crystal Palace and Southampton are known to be retaining an interest in taking him away from Wearside this month, and his fellow striker Steven Fletcher.

When asked if either player could be leaving in the next fortnight, Poyet said: “They are staying.

“I am a believer that we need to stop the transfer window before we start the season because, for example, I could have gone to West Brom on Saturday and bought Saido Berahino if he scores. He did. Imagine that the following day he could have been playing for us.

That’s not right.

“I’m sorry but it is not right.

Sometimes you can nick a player off a team which will be competing with you – I don’t like it. That is the way it is and we are all the same so that is good.”

Sunderland are still in the hunt for a new striker and Napoli’s Eduardo Vargas has been on the radar, but the Chilean was due in London for a medical ahead of a move to Queens Park Rangers yesterday.

Liverpool’s Fabio Borini could still return to the Stadium of Light at some stage this month, given that the Italian has been told he will only be the fourth choice attacker at Anfield if Brendan Rodgers successfully brings in another man.

A £14m deal remains on the table for Borini, but Poyet has made it clear he can not wait around forever knowing the clock is ticking towards the deadline and the time he has to add to his attack.

Offloading Wickham or Fletcher would only increase the need for reinforcements in the final third, so the Sunderland boss just wishes the transfer window was shut so he did not have to worry about losing anyone else.

Poyet said: “I don’t like it.

I don’t enjoy that. Perfection for me would be to have a core of a group between 15-20 players that are there for twothree years. So you are working with them and they can come and give you something special.

“You don’t need to start from zero every time because there is a way of playing, an understanding in training, behaviour and respect. Because every time you change the players, you start again.

And it takes time.

“We had it correct last year, at the end of the year, and now we are starting again because of our new players.

That is normal when you change too many players. It is better to have a solid few.”

Sunderland had been in discussions with Napoli for Vargas but the Chile international is said to be keen on joining compatriot Mauricio Isla at Loftus Road. An initial £1m deal is being talked about, with a view to a permanent deal next year.

  • Sunderland have confirmed that tickets for the trip to Birmingham on August 27, will go on general sale from 9am today. And Black Cats fans have until Saturday lunchtime to secure their season card for the 2014-15 season. Season cards are on sale ahead of the first home game of the new campaign against Manchester United on Sunday. Adult seats are available from £400 for the season and supporters aged over-65 can secure their seat from £300. Fans under 22 years of age will pay £220 for their season card, representing a £60 reduction on 2013-14 prices.