Sunderland up pursuit of Larsson and Westwood

Seb Larsson
Seb Larsson
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SUNDERLAND will up their pursuit of Seb Larsson after the out-of-contract midfielder completed his international commitments last night.

And the Black Cats are also closing in on Coventry stopper Keiren Westwood as Steve Bruce looks to complete deals for the two free transfers.

Larsson was in the Sweden side which thrashed Finland 5-0 in a European Championship qualifier last night, to move within three points of group leaders Holland.

The 26-year-old will now return to England to finalise his domestic future after his contract expired at relegated Birmingham City.

Blackburn, Stoke and Newcastle have all been keeping a watching brief on Larsson.

But Sunderland have always been in pole position to sign the former Arsenal man, with Bruce taking Larsson to St Andrew’s when manager of Birmingham.

Larsson’s agent Per Jonsson confirmed to the Echo last week that he expects his client’s future to be sorted swiftly and the Black Cats will hope they can make progress within the next seven days.

The right-sided midfielder would offer an immediate replacement for the soon-to-depart Jordan Henderson and finally provide Sunderland with a player who can deliver some quality from set pieces.

The move for Westwood is at a similar stage, with Sunderland at the front of the queue to sign the Republic of Ireland international.

Westwood has turned down a lucrative offer to stay at Coventry to fulfil his Premier League ambitions and there has been no shortage of suitors.

Manchester City and Wolves have also been pursuing the 26-year-old former Carlisle stopper.

But Sunderland have been Westwood’s preferred destination and the fact that he is not prepared to play second-fiddle to Joe Hart at City, suggests he is not coming to the Stadium of Light as back-up.

Westwood will believe he can secure the number one jersey ahead of Simon Mignolet for the start of the season, with Craig Gordon still sidelined with a knee injury.

Meanwhile, Wigan have reportedly put a £12million price tag on Sunderland target Charles N’Zogbia, though will let him leave to join a Champions League side for £3m less.

Boss Roberto Martinez said: “If a club comes in who are not in the Champions League, I’d say no. We don’t need to sell.”