WES Brown will arrive on Wearside for talks today as Sunderland look to finalise a deal for the Manchester United defender.
The Black Cats have had to bide their time in their pursuit of Old Trafford trio Brown, John O’Shea and Darren Gibson since having a triple bid accepted almost a month ago.
But Sunderland hope to finally make progress in their quest to land Brown today, while they are also edging closer to landing O’Shea.
Brown will be shown the facilities at the Academy of Light before holding discussions with Black Cats boss Steve Bruce and chairman Niall Quinn, who will hope to persuade the former England man to end his 15-year stay at United.
The 31-year-old had initially been thought to have been the most reluctant of the trio to leave the North West.
But Sunderland have been dogged in their pursuit of Brown and hope an estimated £4million move can now be wrapped up.
Brown would offer Sunderland options at both centre-half and right-back, areas which are both thin after the departures of loanees John Mensah and Nedum Onuoha.
O’Shea’s protracted move is not quite so close, although it has been held up by the Republic of Ireland international’s wife Yvonne giving birth.
Sunderland remain in the driving seat for the 30-year-old defender though and after Sunderland’s players returned to training today, the hope is that deals for both O’Shea and Brown can be wrapped up by the time the club’s pre-season programme gets underway at York next Wednesday.
Stoke are thought to be Sunderland’s main rivals for the duo and the Potters have made an inquiry with Manchester United.
But the wages of both are likely to be a major barrier towards either moving to the Britannia despite Stoke offering the chance for the pair to remain in the North West.
Reading defender Matthew Mills is also interesting Stoke boss Tony Pulis and would offer a cheaper option.
Sunderland have not given up hope of signing Gibson either despite progress stalling in their pursuit of the Republic of Ireland midfielder.
Gibson was initially keen to join Sunderland after claiming he would relish the chance to link up with Bruce and was prepared to leave the Premier League champions.
But Gibson and his representatives have been unable to agree terms with Sunderland and the midfielder is nowhere near as close to joining the Black Cats as his United team-mates.
Sunderland have put the move on the backburner, but will remain patient in their pursuit of the Irish international in the hope that the 25-year-old is prepared to lower his wage demands later in the transfer window.