JAMES McFadden is set to pen a short-term contract at the Stadium of Light until January in order to prove his fitness with Sunderland.
Negotiations with free agent McFadden (left) have rumbled on for a couple of weeks after the Scotland forward initially joined the Black Cats on trial last month.
Progress has now been made, with McFadden and his agent agreeing terms over a provisional deal with Martin O’Neill, that would see the 29-year-old remain at the Stadium of Light until the turn of the year.
Although that contract is yet to be rubber-stamped by Sunderland, O’Neill believes it would allow McFadden to stake his claim with the first-team, rather than being tied to a long-term deal and lingering on the fringes.
The Sunderland manager told the Echo: “Over the last week or so I’ve been in contact with his agent.
“We have in principle agreed something which would suit us all. That would be a contract for a couple of months.
“I still feel James is a bit short of what I would consider real proper fitness.
“And I’m delighted to say, he’s not one of those lads who would not want to hang around if he couldn’t make progress.
“It’s an arrangement that we still need to verify, but it might suit us all.
“It provides an incentive for James to get into the side over the next couple of months.”
Sunderland only registered 21 senior players, rather than the maximum 25, at the conclusion of the summer transfer window – allowing them to sign and field any free agents still available.
And O’Neill has seen McFadden, equally comfortable out wide or up front, as the perfect candidate to provide support for creative trio Adam Johnson, Stephane Sessegnon and James McClean.
McFadden was freed by Everton in the summer after making eight appearances – five of them from the bench – in his seven month-long second spell at Goodison Park.