DAVID Meyler will complete his permanent move to Hull City within the next 48 hours as the midfielder prepares to follow Ji Dong-won out of the Sunderland exit door.
Sunderland began their January business last night when Ji joined German outfit Augsburg on a loan deal until the end of the season and Meyler is on the verge of following the South Korean in a £1.5million switch.
Meyler was originally scheduled to return to Wearside today at the end of his two-month spell with the promotion-chasing Tigers after featuring in yesterday’s stalemate at Blackpool.
But Hull tabled a bid – which is understood to involve staggered payments totalling £1.5m – over the weekend and Sunderland have accepted the deal to end the Republic of Ireland international’s four-and-a-half year stay at the Stadium of Light, with the move potentially being concluded as early as today.
Meyler featured just once under Martin O’Neill in the Premier League and the Sunderland boss tellingly didn’t invoke the 28-day recall clause during Meyler’s loan spell despite fellow midfielder Lee Cattermole being ruled out until February with a knee injury.
And it is understood there have been concerns in the Sunderland camp that Meyler doesn’t possess the mobility needed to withstand the rigours of the Premier League after two serious knee ligament injuries.
Former Sunderland boss and current Hull manager Steve Bruce had first-hand experience of Meyler’s injury problems and was wary of making a permanent bid during the summer for that reason.
But Bruce was eager to take Meyler on loan and with the 23-year-old impressing in the Championship with three goals in nine appearances to propel Hull to the automatic promotion places, the ex-Cork City man has proved he can hold his own in the second tier.
“We’ve agreed a deal with Sunderland and now we’ll just try to get the personal terms sorted with the player over the next 24 to 48 hours,” said Bruce.
“He’s done very well for us and I’ve said all along that it was imperative that we get our loan players tied up. We’re doing our utmost to do that.
“It’s a good sum of money and fair play to the owners again. He gives us something that we haven’t got since he’s come into the team. He gives us energy and drive that complements the good footballers we’ve got.
“He can only get better as well. His career has been cut short by a knee injury and he’ll get better the more he plays. That athleticism makes him a great competitor.”
The departure of Meyler is a clear sign that O’Neill is expecting to boost his midfield options this month, with former Everton man Tim Cahill closing in on a two-month loan switch from MLS outfit New York Red Bulls.
Cahill may not be the only arrival in the middle of the park, with O’Neill also keen to add muscle to Sunderland’s engine room.
Meanwhile, Ji’s departure has been brewing for several months after the Echo revealed in November that Bundesliga strugglers Augsburg were in talks over a loan switch for the 21-year-old.
Despite being included on the bench for Saturday’s defeat to Spurs, Ji has not featured for Sunderland’s first team this season and has struggled to even make an impression for the Black Cats Under-21s.
There was interest from Ji’s former employers Chunnam Dragons to take the striker back to the Korean K-League, but Augsburg’s persistence has seen them win the race for his signature.
Augsburg sporting director Stefan Reuter said: “Ji Dong-won can be used in several attacking positions and he’ll help us for the second half of the season.”
Ji joins Korean team-mate Koo Jas-Cheol at the Bavarian-based club.