Ross Stewart takes major step towards Sunderland exit as fee agreed with Southampton

Southampton are closing in on the signing of Sunderland striker Ross Stewart

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Sunderland have accepted a bid from Southampton as Ross Stewart edges closer to an exit from the club.

Southampton stepped up their longstanding interest in the striker this week as he nears a return to full fitness and though the Black Cats rejected their initial bid, there has been a growing acceptance this week that Russell Martin's side would eventually hit a fee that would be acceptable.

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Stewart is now in the last year of his contract and despite lengthy talks over a renewal, very little progress was made.

As per the initial report from Sky Sports News, the Black Cats have now accepted a bid in the region of £8 million for the 27-year-old. The Echo understands that the club could net in the region of an additional £4 million in add-ons, while they also have included a sell-on clause as part of the deal should Southampton sell the forward for a profit in the future.

Stewart has headed to the South Coast for a medical. Personal terms are not expected to be a problem.

Sunderland will now look to strengthen their own ranks on deadline day, with a striker on their agenda even before Southampton stepped up to pursue the Scot.

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Ukrainian forward Nazariy Ruysn has been a target throughout the summer, but Speaking at his pre-match press conference earlier today, head coach Tony Mowbray said he was confident that the club would not sanction Stewart's departure without making progress on a replacement.

"What I would suggest is that he can't be getting sold unless the knight in shining armour comes riding through the door," Mowbray said."I'd think and hope that would be the case. I'd think that we'd have a striker for the future if Ross did [leave], it's been a long time that we've been trying to get Ross to sign a new contract.

"Truthfully, I don't know what will happen with Ross. The scenario hasn't changed for me, he's either going to be here after Friday and hopefully fit in a few weeks ready to score some goals, or we take a huge bid for him and we spend all the money on strikers who are going to make the difference for us.

"That's football, the next one has to come in and score the goals and be the new hero.

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"I don't know any numbers that might have been bid, if they are really good you would take the deal and spend the money? I think that's just common sense [from my perspective]."

Ross County will reportedly net around 15% on any profit Sunderland make from the sale of Stewart.