Sunderland’s attacking revamp took a great leap forward last night with the signings of James Vaughan and Aiden McGeady.
The pair arrived from Bury and Everton in cut-price deals as Simon Grayson made it four signings since his arrival on Wearside – and his first two permanent captures.
The Echo understands that the deals have cost the club less than £1million combined.
Vaughan, who scored 24 league goals for League One club Bury last season, is eager to join his new team-mates after being impressed by their showing against the Shakers in last Friday night’s Gigg Lane friendly, which Sunderland won 3-2.
He said: “As soon as I heard about the interest I was just adamant that this is where I wanted to come and play my football.
“I can’t wait [to play at the Stadium of Light].
“It is what you dream of as a kid, I had a taste of it when I was a bit younger and I’m just really excited. I’m the type of player who gives their all and works hard and hopefully fans will appreciate that.
“I’m really positive [about the season ahead].
“When we played Sunderland last week with Bury it was an eye-opener – I was surprised how good some of the players were.”
Ex-Everton, Norwich and Huddersfield forward Vaughan has signed a two-year deal, with Bury chairman Stewart Day saying he had joined the ‘biggest club outside the Premier League.’
McGeady, who has signed a three-year contract, is excited at the prospect of teaming up with Grayson again after a successful loan at Preston in the Championship last season.
The Republic of Ireland international said: “It was probably the biggest pull [Grayson] for me.
“Obviously a club like Sunderland is difficult to turn down, but, at this stage of my career, I knew I had to think carefully about the next move, and he got the best out of me at Preston.
“The two of them together, I couldn’t turn it down.
“He took the shackles off myself, I played freely and he gave me the confidence to do that, to not be scared of trying things.”
The signings come as a relief for Grayson, who had made strengthening the attack a key priority.
The sales of Jermain Defoe and Fabio Borini left Sunderland without a recognised striker, with Jeremain Lens and Wahbi Khazri’s likely departures leaving the Black Cats vulnerable out wide, too.
Grayson is likely to try to sign at least one more striker and one more wide player in the coming weeks.
Sunderland are in friendly action against Scottish Premiership club St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park tomorrow (2pm kick-off).
They move on to meet Hartlepool United on Tuesday, before tackling Bradford City, Scunthorpe and McGeady’s former club, Celtic.
The Championship season kicks off with a home match against Derby County on Friday, August 4, with Sunderland then travelling to meet Bury in the Carabao Cup the following Thursday, giving Vaughan an early chance to play against his former team-mates.