Sunderland trio Malbranque, Angeleri and McCartney on move

Steed Malbranque challenges Craig Gardner last season. Gardner's switch from Birmingham to Sunderland could now contribute to Malbranque leaving Sunderland.

Steed Malbranque challenges Craig Gardner last season. Gardner's switch from Birmingham to Sunderland could now contribute to Malbranque leaving Sunderland.

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STEVE Bruce is content with Sunderland’s left-sided options – even if his chances of re-entering the transfer market are significantly boosted by a flurry of sales.

Sunderland are on the verge of offloading a trio of high earners, with Steed Malbranque, George McCartney and Marcos Angeleri all in advanced talks over moves away from the Stadium of Light.

Malbranque is set to return to his homeland after Sunderland agreed a deal with French outfit St Etienne, bringing an end to his three-year stint on Wearside.

Angeleri is also homeward bound in what is expected to be a permanent switch to former club Estudiantes, while McCartney will leave the Black Cats in another loan move after spending the bulk of last season at Leeds.

Sunderland will not recoup any significant revenue from the departure of the trio, although it will place far less strain on the club’s wage bill.

Malbranque is Sunderland’s top earner by some margin, while McCartney still has two years remaining on the lucrative contract handed to him by former boss Roy Keane.

The savings could allow Bruce to bring another fresh face to the club before the end of the transfer window after he was told to sell before any more acquisitions were considered.

A natural left-sided midfielder will be top of Bruce’s agenda, even if options are thin on the ground following Charles N’Zogbia’s move to Aston Villa.

But Bruce will not recruit recklessly, believing there are several players who can fill the void on the left, with Seb Larsson doing a convincing job in last night’s 3-1 friendly victory over neighbours Hartlepool United.

Bruce said: “We know we haven’t got a left-hand sider who can go down the outside. But it’s about finding them.

“I’m very pleased with the balance of the squad and we’ve got various left-footers who can play on the left-hand side.

“We’ve got Jack (Colback), Vaughany (David Vaughan) and Kieran (Richardson) who have all played there before.

“I’ve also got the ability of Seb. He’s very good playing on the left, coming back on his right foot delivering that inswinging one which is terrific.”

He added: “Of course, Steed has done remarkably well for the club over the last two or three years, but it’s maybe time that he moves on and we wish him well.

“I think it’s in advanced talks so maybe there’ll something to report there soon.

“We’ve decided to say okay which is inevitable with the amount of people we’ve brought in and the balance of the squad.

“I would envisage there’ll be two or three leaving the club in the next few days.

“It looks like Angeleri might be going back to Argentina and there’s a possibility that George McCartney might be going out too.”

Malbranque had spent much of last season on the left of midfield and the impending departure of the Frenchman will surprise some.

But the 31-year-old is in the final 12 months of his contract and Bruce has not shown any inclination to offer the former Fulham man a new deal.

The exits of McCartney and Angeleri are far more predictable, with Sunderland pro-active in trying to offload the unwanted defensive pair.

The Black Cats have been in talks with Estudiantes for several months over Angeleri, who has flopped since arriving on Wearside in a £1.5million deal last summer.

Bruce declined to name the club looking to land McCartney. Birmingham have been interested in the Northern Ireland left-back, although freed West Ham defender Jonathan Spector moved to St Andrew’s yesterday.

It leaves Nyron Nosworthy and Matt Kilgallon as the only two players surplus to requirements on Wearside, although the likes of Anton Ferdinand and Craig Gordon are also vulnerable with the pair in the final year of their contracts.