BOLTON SWOOP TO TIE UP MAGIC LOAN

SUNDERLAND contract rebel Allan Johnston is joining Bolton Wanderers on a months loan

Reebok Stadium boss Sam Allardyce has been battling for a fortnight to arrange a temporary deal for the Scotland international winger, who can leave Wearside on a Bosman free transfer in the summer.

Former Sunderland player and scout Allardyce wants the 26-year-old as cover for Ricardo Gardner, who is away with the Jamaican national team.

The manager said today: "Allan Johnston should arrive at Bolton tomorrow. Hes coming for a month initially and well have to see what happens from there.

"I hoped to have him here sooner, but there was a hitch at the Sunderland end."

Johnston was not registered with Bolton in time for their FA Cup fifth round tie at Cambridge United on Saturday, but will be in contention for a start in the Lancashire derby against Blackburn Rovers on February 5.

The man dubbed "Magic" by supporters will have fond memories of the Reebok Stadium after scoring a cracking goal there in a televised 3-0 victory for Sunderland last season.

He has not played for the Wearsiders since the final game of last season, at home to Birmingham City the club where he spent two months on loan earlier this term.

Boss Peter Reid has refused to select him after the Scot shook hands on a new contract then refused to sign the deal.

After returning from Birmingham, where he turned down the opportunity of staying for an extra month, he rejected proposed loan moves to Norwich, Ipswich and former club Hearts.

Johnston is out of contract in June and is free now to negotiate now with clubs interested in his signature on a permanent basis. Rangers, the club he supported as a boy, are hot favourites to snap him up in the summer.

Meanwhile, Sunderland boss Peter Reid insists defender Chris Makin is not for sale, despite reports that he could be shown the door after a dressing room bust-up.

Makin and winger Nicky Summerbee were dropped by Reid for the defeat against Leeds on Sunday. But the manager said: "Its not right to suggest that Im going to put Chris Makin or anyone else on the transfer list. I dropped the players because I felt they werent playing very well."