JON STEAD remains at the top of Sunderland's list of signing targets.
Stadium of Light manager Mick McCarthy confirmed today that the Black Cats are the Division I club who had an initial £800,000 bid for Stead rejected.
And McCarthy made it clear he is not ready to drop the immediate interest in a striker who has bagged 11 goals for Town in just 18 League and Cup appearances this season.
"As people know, we have put in a bid for Jon which has been rejected, but the clubs are still talking and the situation is ongoing," said McCarthy today.
"Jon is someone who has impressed me, I have admired him since the end of last season and I have spoken to Peter Jackson about him several times.
"I don't want to say too much in case it prejudices the situation, but there is a strong link between ourselves and the player and the clubs are still in discussions."
Town's board met this morning and Jackson reported no change on the Stead stance and no increased offer for the 20-year-old, who will lead the attack in the all-ticket trip to Scunthorpe on Saturday (3.00).
"Jon is a fantastic talent and if the right offer comes from the right club it's only right to explore it," said Jackson.
"Not many clubs in our position would turn down such money, but we want to keep him until things dictate otherwise and I've just told him to keep doing the business and keep playing as he is."
Jackson must replace banned midfield man Jon Worthington on Saturday and, while Tony Carss has a foot niggle, he is expected to be fit to face Brian Laws' men.
Chris Holland looks favourite to step in, with Dwayne Mattis, Dave Mirfin and Paul Scott also vying for the slot.
Scunthorpe have Kevin Sharp and ex-Town loan defender Mark Jackson in their line-up for a match in which prices are £14 (adults) and £8 (concessions).