MX23RW : Tuesday, October 23 05:55:19

Sale Sharks confirm interest in England fly-half George Ford

Bath Rugby ace George Ford is a target for Sale Sharks, who will look to begin negotiations with the England fly-half in January.

Sale Sharks director of rugby Steve Diamond has declared that his side would welcome England fly-half George Ford at the end of the season if he decides to leave current club Bath Rugby.

The 23-year-old's future at The Rec is up in the air following the sacking of father Mike as head coach in May, just 12 months on from being voted the Aviva Premiership's Coach of the Year.

Sale were among the sides linked with Ford in the wake of Bath coach Todd Blackadder's recent comments, when admitting that he "will respect" any decision made by the star player if he wants to move on.

Speaking to BBC Sport, Sharks chief Diamond insisted that no contact has yet been made over a switch in the New Year, but it is a transfer that he would be keen to push through if all parties are content.

"We would be interested in anyone of George Ford's ability," he said. "We've not had direct contact [with Bath or George] but when January 1 arrives and the transfer window opens we can start discussions if he fancies a chat. Anyone who's watched us this year knows there are two or three positions that we're lacking.

"We've got to go for world-class quality if we're to take the club where we want to over the next three to five years. The days of us bargain basement shopping have not completely gone.

"The academy is going to be the foundation of building a club, but we've got to get back the mid-2000s era of buying high-quality players, bringing them in and supplementing with home-grown players. We need four or five world-class players, I think, to compete."

Ford, capped 30 times by England, is under contract with Bath until the end of the 2017-18 season.

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A general view of the Recreation Ground before the Aviva Premiership match between Bath Rugby and Harlequins at the Recreation Ground on October 31, 2015
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