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Reading manager Brian McDermott failed in an attempt to sign Tottenham midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson on deadline day.
The Iceland international started his professional career with the Royals before moving to Hoffenheim in 2010 after impressing at the Madejski Stadium.
His stock continued to rise and after an impressive loan spell with Swansea last season, Tottenham signed him on a permanent deal in the summer but McDermott did his best to get him back in a blue and white shirt before the transfer deadline passed.
"We tried to bring him back. We had spoken to Spurs and we made three offers," said McDermott, giving away that it was in fact Sigurdsson and not Blackpool's Tom Ince that his club were planning on paying a club-record fee for.
"I thought at one stage we had a real chance of doing a deal, but unfortunately, we couldn't manage to do it.
"Gylfi is a Tottenham player, but we've known him since he was 12/13 years old and it would have been great to bring him back."
McDermott revealed on Tuesday that he had lodged a bid for Ince, one of the most sought-after players in the country, while he also signed Sheffield United striker Nick Blackman.
Reading meet Sunderland at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday as a completely different side from the one which capitulated at the Stadium of Light in December, according to McDermott.
In a rearranged fixture, the Royals never got going against Martin O'Neill's men and a resounding beating left them prime candidates for relegation as they struggled to adapt to life in the top flight.
A major upturn in form has occurred since, however - they are unbeaten in five games - and they find themselves out of the bottom three as a result.
A penchant for comebacks has helped their cause, with come-from-behind wins against West Brom and Newcastle followed by Wednesday's rescue of a 2-2 draw against Chelsea, and McDermott believes that they will present Sunderland with a tougher test this time around.
"The lads are fired up for every game and this one is no different," he told a press conference. Sunderland played well against us at the Stadium of Light, got an early goal and went from there.
"But we know it won't be easy for them to come here now with how we are playing and long may that continue."
The Black Cats are currently sitting in mid-table after some struggles of their own, but primed themselves for a surge in the second half of the season with the £5million acquisition of Swansea striker Danny Graham.
"When they and Martin started the season it was difficult, but look at them now," McDermott said.
"They're comfortable in the league and once again Martin is doing a great job, which he always does. He's got good players in and signed Danny Graham and I'm sure he'll be involved."
On Saturday's clash and a chance to build on getting out of the bottom three, he added: "As we always do we take it a game at a time and that makes this a big game.
"Since I've been here we've shown the right spirit and character and we have shown that we are never finished. This is a massive game and we need to make sure we start like we finished at Chelsea."