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Back off Rafa Bruce warns

Sunderland manager Steve Bruce has accused his Liverpool counterpart Rafael Benitez of unsettling striker Kenwyne Jones.

The Black Cats boss has grown exasperated recently with repeated speculation on Merseyside that he will allow the Trinidad and Tobago international to join the struggling Reds on loan before completing a permanent move during the summer.

Bruce insists there has been no contact between the clubs, and that Jones would only be allowed to leave if the Black Cats received an offer they could not refuse.

He said: "Kenwyne Jones is not going to go on loan to anybody for the help of Liverpool or anybody else. I would be mad. Now, if Liverpool are going to come and offer an amount of money, then we all know what happens.

"Every player - every player - has got a price and a valuation. I have to say though, it would have to be a huge amount of money for us even to contemplate it with a week to go in the transfer window. The only thing it's done is unsettle the boy. It's got him probably in a situation where he thinks I don't want him, which is far from the case.

"But I can't stop it. Publicly or privately, I can't stop this constant thing of Kenwyne Jones every day."

Even normally mild-mannered chairman Niall Quinn has been angered by the speculation, and Bruce, who admitted he would have to reassure Jones he is wanted on Wearside after training yesterday, was at a loss to explain a story which simply refuses to go away.

He said: "I have said - and I try to be as honest as I can - everybody in football has got a price, whether you are Ronaldo or Kaka or Kenwyne Jones.

"Now if Liverpool are serious -- which I don't know if they are or whether it is Rafa having games with his board, I don't know -- but the ones who are suffering from it are Sunderland and Kenwyne Jones.

"This notion that I'm going to let him go on loan, people must look at that and think I have lost my marbles."