Sunderland boss Steve Bruce is reportedly ready to step up his pursuit of Manchester United striker Michael Owen.

15726 - Sunderland target Micheal Owen deal

Owen has found first-team opportunities difficult to come by this season and has played just nine games in five-and-a-half months, but Bruce is ready to offer him more regular football at the Stadium of Light.

The Sunday Mirror have quoted a source close to Owen as saying: "This is not about money - Michael will get a fair contract but he is more interested in playing and scoring."

Exactly where Owen would fit in at Sunderland is a bit of a mystery however, as Bruce has club-record signing Asamoah Gyan and prolific Premier League striker Darren Bent at his disposal.

But with both strikers currently struggling to find the net and Danny Welbeck used more often as a wide player, Bruce could be prepared to turn to Owen to solve his finishing problems.

The Sunderland already has former United players Phil Bardsley and Kieran Richardson in his ranks, while Welbeck has impressed in his loan spell from Old Trafford for the season.

It's thought that United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is also keen to keep Sunderland onside in case he considers making a bid for Wearsiders starlet Jordan Henderson in the summer.