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HOTLINE: Black Cats hoping for Dunne deal; EXCLUSIVE SBRAGIA CHASES SKIPPER BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE.

Byline: By Alan OLIVER and Alan NIXON

SUNDERLAND boss Ricky Sbragia wants to make Manchester City defender Richard Dunne his new skipper.

The Black Cats will test City's resolve to hang on to their captain, who signed a four-year deal in October.

Eastlands manager Mark Hughes has said the central defender will not be allowed to leave in the summer but Dunne, 29, has struggled for form.

Hughes is looking to improve his backline and has already seen attempts to sign England and Chelsea defender John Terry rejected.

Sunderland signed two central defenders in January - Tal Ben Haim from Manchester City and Calum Davenport from West Ham - but both are only on loan until the end of the season.

Sbragia sees Republic of Ireland star Dunne as the perfect signing - and will offer him the captain's armband to try to tempt him to Wearside.

The Black Cats also want to sign Paraguay World Cup defender Paulo da Silva.

The 29-year-old, a free agent in the summer, has opened talks about an end-of-season move.

Da Silva has been capped more than 30 times by his country and is a tough centreback who would be a big asset in the Premier League - and a top-class deal for the stricter Sunderland budget.

He plays for Toluca in Mexico but will be a free agent at the end of the season.

Da Silva played in Italy for some of Serie A's lesser lights but has his sights on England, with Sbragia set to make a decision once the Black Cats are sure of their Premier League status.

CAPTION(S):

WEAR'S LOOKING AT YOU: Sunderland are interested in Manchester City captain Richard Dunne; DA SILVA: Talks
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Mar 8, 2009
Words:281
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