Steve Bruce is looking to tie up deals for Manchester United trio Wes Brown, John O’Shea and Darron Gibson before other clubs steal them from under his nose, it has been reported.
Sunderland have already had a combined £12 million bid for the three players accepted by Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
However, the deals have yet to go through, meaning rival outfits could yet move ahead of the Black Cats in the Man Utd sales queue.
O’Shea has been linked with an unlikely move to Arsenal in recent days, although the Mirror reports that Stoke are in the race as well.
The Potters could also move for Brown, who is attracting the attention of Everton, while Gibson could yet move to Sunderland’s north-east rivals Newcastle, the paper suggests.
Bruce is keen to continue his rebuilding programme at the Stadium of Light after suffering from a personnel crisis last season.
The sale of striker Darren Bent and a spate of injuries left Sunderland dangerously short in attack, with Connor Wickham and Ji Dong-won brought in already this summer in an attempt to avert a similar crisis from occurring this time round.
Bruce has now turned his attention to defence as John Mensah and Nedum Onuoha, who were both on loan at the Stadium of Light last term, have returned to their parent clubs.
Failure to replace the pair with Brown and O’Shea could make Sunderland attractive outsiders for the drop at 9/1.
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Sunderland’s first test of the new season will be at Anfield on 13th August, with Liverpool Sunderland betting suggesting that they will have their work cut out to start the campaign with three points.
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