Sale's Ford interest confirmed by Diamond

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England international fly-half George Ford has been heavily linked with an exit from Bath, and Sale Sharks director of rugby Steve Diamond has confirmed his interest.

Sale are believed to be leading Northampton Saints and Leicester Tigers in the race to sign Ford at the end of the season, with Bath boss Todd Blackadder stating he will not block a move.

The 23-year-old was reportedly a target for Toulon, where his father Mike is head coach, but England boss Eddie Jones warned such a switch would come at the expense of his international career.

The Sharks lost fly-half Danny Cipriani to Wasps at the end of 2015-16 and Diamond would be willing to enter into discussions with Ford next month as he looks to make "world class" additions.

"We would be interested in anyone of George Ford's ability," Diamond told the BBC.

"We've not had direct contact [with Bath or Ford] but when the first of January arrives and the transfer windows open we can start discussions if he fancies a chat.

"Anyone who's watched us this year knows there are two or three positions we're lacking [in]. 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.

"We need four or five world-class players, I think, to compete"