Sunderland manager Peter Reid will have to become involved in a multi-million pound auction if he wants to land Aston Villa's Ugo Ehiogu, writes JACK LESLIE.

Manchester City have raised the stakes by putting in a bid of £7m for the 27-year-old, who is desperate to leave Villa Park.

Now Reid's firm policy on transfers is likely to rule him out of the chase for Ehiogu, who is still hoping for a move to Manchester United or one of the top London clubs.

Reid has rarely wavered from his determination to put a valuation on targets and stick to it, although he did meet Everton half-way to clinch the Don Hutchison deal.

City manager Joe Royle admitted yesterday: "We have made a substantial bid. It's a high price, but we have a willingness to pay the going rate."

Reid has already failed to persuade Italian Lorenzo Amoruso to join Sunderland and, if he misses out on Ehiogu, will turn to Slovakian international Stanislav Varga to strengthen his defence.

The Slovan Bratislava centre-back impressed Reid when he spent a week training with Sunderland, who would have to pay at least £1.5m to land him.

Reid has also renewed his interested in South African striker Siyabonga Nomvete, according to officials of his club Kaiser Chiefs.

The pacy 21-year-old, who was on trial at Sunderland last season, was the star of last season's Nations Cup tournament.

l The kick-off for Sunderland's friendly at Le Havre on Sunday has been switched from 3pm to 6pm.

Tickets will not be sold in advance, but Sunderland fans can pay at the gate.

l Wimbledon manager Terry Burton wants to launch an audacious bid to sign Aston Villa midfielder Paul Merson.

Burton has money to spend following the sale of Ben Thatcher to Tottenham for £5m and Carl Cort to Newcastle for £7m.

Club chairman Bjorn Rune Gjelsten has revealed Burton would like Merson to spearhead the Dons' bid to get back into the Premiership.