Sunderland: James McFadden poised for Black Cats contract talks

McFadden during training with Motherwell
McFadden during training with Motherwell

James McFadden appears likely to receive a contract offer from Sunderland, part of triple good news for Scotland from the Stadium of Light.

Striker Steven Fletcher has returned to the international squad after resolving differences with coach Craig Levein.

And full-back Phil Bardsley stepped up his return from injury in a closed-doors friendly against Middlesbrough.

Now manager Martin O'Neill has revealed that he is poised to hold signing talks with trialist forward McFadden.

McFadden has been without a club after being released from his second spell with Everton at the end of last season.

The 29-year-old had been training with Motherwell, but his former club and interested Aberdeen manager Craig Brown both admitted that his wage requirements were likely to be beyond their budgets.

McFadden also played in a 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough and O'Neill said: "I am going to speak to his agent and I am hoping we will be able to come up with something. It's encouraging."

The forward won the last of his 48 Scotland caps in September 2010, when he was substituted at half-time by Levein, who was critical of the player after the win over Liechtenstein.

McFadden suffered a serious injury soon after, leading to his release by Birmingham City before he returned to action with a short-term deal with Everton last season.

Bardsley has not played for Sunderland this season because of injury
Bardsley has not played for Sunderland this season because of injury

The 27-year-old Bardsley, who has 12 Scotland caps, has not played first-team football since featuring in Scotland's 5-1 defeat by the United States in May and underwent ankle surgery in August.

His return has come too late for the defender to be named in Levein's latest squad, but Fletcher was a surprise name in the party for the World Cup qualification double-header against Wales and Belgium.

The 25-year-old has resolved a dispute with Levein and will join up with his international team-mates for the first time since February last year following Saturday's Barclays Premier league meeting with reigning champions Manchester City.

O'Neill is hopeful that the striker will return from international duty in good health and ready to continue a hot streak of form that has led him to score five goals in four league games since his £12m summer transfer from Wolves.

"He hasn't spoken much about it to me," the manager said of Fletcher's international return. "I think he's pleased that whatever impasse was there has been breached and that he is back in the fold again.

"From my own viewpoint, I am obviously delighted for him that he is back in.

"Of course, it's another one to add to the concerns about him coming back in a fortnight's time, but you just take that into consideration.

"I think he is pleased to be back and, from Scotland's viewpoint, it's good news for them.

"For him, it's good he's back there. I think he will improve the team.

"He is playing splendidly for us and I think he will be a boost for Scotland."

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