Sunderland linked to Russian ace Pogrebnyak

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RUSSIAN international Pavel Pogrebnyak could become the latest hitman to boost Sunderland’s attacking options.

But no move for the Stuttgart striker is imminent as Sunderland concentrate their energies on finally securing the signatures of Wes Brown and John O’Shea.

Reports in Germany suggest the Black Cats are in pole position to land Pogrebnyak, who is expected to leave the Bundesliga outfit this summer.

His agent Oleg Artemov has also claimed: “There are some offers for Pogrebnyak, but it’s still at the negotiation stage.”

Sunderland have already boosted their forward options in the last seven days with the capture of £8million teenager Connor Wickham and Korean Ji Dong-won.

But boss Steve Bruce is keen to further reinforce his attacking depth, with the new signings making just three available recognised strikers at the Stadium of Light for the start of pre-season training on Wednesday.

Only one of the trio, Asamoah Gyan is proven in the Premier League, and both Wickham and Dong-won will need time to acclimatise to the top flight.

Despite his huge promise, Wickham, 18, has made just 33 starts in the Championship while Dong-won faces a huge step up from the Korean K-League.

Last season’s loanee Danny Welbeck remains a possibility as a third new attacking recruit, although Sunderland’s chances of another loan are slim.

Even if Manchester United are prepared to let the England striker leave again temporarily, a deal would be unlikely before the end of August.

Pogrebnyak would offer a swifter resolution to Bruce’s attacking search, with the 27-year-old expected to be allowed to leave Stuttgart.

The former Zenit St Petersburg forward is one of the top earners at the Bundesliga outfit and has hardly shone since moving from his homeland two years ago.

Pogrebnayk has only managed a modest 14 goals in 54 appearances for Stuttgart and coach Fredi Bobic is prepared to cut his losses for a reasonable transfer fee.

Sunderland have also been linked with a move for Lens right-back Serge Aurier.

The 18-year-old has been touted around the Premier League for the past 12 months and with Lens’ relegation from the French top flight, he looks certain to get his wish.

Manchester City and Blackburn have also been credited with an interest in Aurier, who could be available for around £3.5million.

Sunderland are firmly in the hunt for a new full-back after the departure of loanee Nedum Onuoha and the Frenchman is one of the most promising teenagers on the continent.

But Sunderland’s pursuit of Aurier may depend on their success in attempts to land Manchester United defenders Brown and O’Shea.

The Black Cats are continuing their bid to land the duo along with Old Trafford team-mate Darren Gibson.

O’Shea is the closest of the trio to a move to the Stadium of Light in a protracted saga which has dragged on for the last month.

Sunderland will look to push through the deal for the 30-year-old this week, while continuing their pursuit of Gibson and Brown.

But Stoke have now reportedly entered the race for Brown and O’Shea, with Arsenal also interested in the latter.

Meanwhile, Sunderland have no interest in Manchester City’s former Newcastle United striker Craig Bellamy.

H SUNDERLAND striker Asamoah Gyan has been named Ghana’s Sports Personality of the Year.

Gyan beat off competition from international team-mate Richard Kingson to land the award.