O’Neill seeks Balotelli help as he closes on first Sunderland signing

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A striker was always likely to be the first signing of Martin O’Neill’s reign at Sunderland, but bringing in a relative of Mario Balotelli would certainly be a bold decision.

O’Neill has shown an interest in younger brother Enoch and has welcomed the 19-year-old for a week-long trial at the Stadium of Light.

Enoch has already enjoyed a trial at Stoke but the fact he was “too raw” led to Tony Pulis declining to offer a contract.

But with Sunderland building for the future, Enoch could be the ideal candidate to lead the line in the long term with summer recruit Connor Wickham.

Sunderland have been hampered tremendously in the striking department for virtually the whole of the campaign to date, with Stephane Sessegnon having regularly to deputise as an emergency frontman.

Asamoah Gyan kicked it all off by refusing to play for the club and moving on loan to the UAE, while Wickham has had his injury troubles.

Nicklas Bendtner is the latest to run into problems after picking up a facial injury against Swansea and so a striker is virtually a necessity to keep alive Sunderland’s bid to finish in the top half, which is currently 4/7 in the Premier League odds.

Alternatively, despite having money to spend, O’Neill is also looking at signing free agent Zlatan Muslimovic after his release from Greek club PAOK.

Muslimovic has done the rounds in Italy playing for no fewer than eight clubs and his physical nature and aerial ability could help him become the focal point of Sunderland’s best attacks.

Meanwhile, he has also gained experience in the international arena, scoring a dozen goals for Bosnia and Herzegovina since making his debut in 2006.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.