Steven Pienaar will spend another week training with Sunderland as David Moyes weighs up whether to offer him a deal.
The former Everton midfielder, who used to play under Moyes at Goodison Park, has been training with the Black Cats at the Academy of Light for the past fortnight.
Moyes has been impressed with the 34-year-old.
And the Sunderland boss concedes that midfield is an area he needs to strengthen quickly, with Seb Larsson out for up to six months and Jan Kirchhoff and Lee Cattermole also struggling with hamstring and groin problems, respectively.
Moyes told the Echo: “Steven is still here – he has done very well.
“We thought about maybe including him in the Under-23 game on Sunday (Chelsea visit Eppleton CW for a 12.05pm kick-off), but we will probably train him more and get him ready.
“He is very good on the ball, doesn’t give possession away too often. “He is a tidy player but we would probably rather wait another week or so to see where he is at.
“The squad size makes us feel that we need to keep looking to add.
“A lot of the players we need to bring in might be players which haven’t got a big value, doing a little bit of what we are doing at the moment to try and find a way round it.”
Sunderland have competition to sign Pienaar though, with South African side Orlando Pirates still hopeful they can persuade the midfielder to return home.
Orlando Pirates administrative officer Floyd Mbele has been quoted as saying they have offered Pienaar a contract and are now waiting a response.
Mbele told Isolezwe: “We’ve done all that we are supposed to. We’ve tabled an offer and we’re now waiting for him (Pienaar) to come back to us.
“We are hopeful that he will come back to us before the start of the season.
“The fact that he’s training with Sunderland doesn’t worry us at all because our initially talks were very promising. It’s all up to him now.
“Negotiating contracts with top players like Pienaar takes a bit of time.
“It usually takes longer to reach an agreement because a player must consider a lot of things.
“Remember, Pienaar was playing abroad and that his family is still in Europe.
“Those are just some of the things he has to look into before taking a decision.”
Meanwhile, midfielder Liam Bridcutt is finally closing in on a move to Championship side Leeds United.
The Scotland cap doesn’t have a future at the Stadium of Light under Moyes and sources in Leeds claim Bridcutt has agreed a deal with Sunderland to sever the final year of his contract.
Both clubs have been negotiating a permanent transfer throughout the summer following the midfielder’s successful loan spell last season. Bridcutt is understood to be discussing personal terms with Leeds.
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