Sunderland hoping to sign two before deadline

Danny Graham
Danny Graham
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SUNDERLAND hope to make TWO new signings before the close of the transfer window tomorrow night.

Danny Graham is one of them, with the 27-year-old striker and his agent staying behind in the North East last night after Swansea’s goalless draw against the Black Cats at the Stadium of Light.

The Gateshead-born former Middlesbrough front-man is due to have talks today which he hopes will pave the way for a £5m move to the Stadium of Light – after telling Swansea that he wants to leave the Liberty Stadium.

The other target remains a mystery. Lazio’s Mauro Zarate and Hamburg’s Paul Scharner have already been ruled out, while Spartak Moscow wideman Aiden McGeady’s name has been linked in the Russian Press in recent weeks.

Black Cats boss Martin O’Neill talked before the window opening about the need to strengthen the spine of his team. The signings of centre-half Kader Mangane and central midfielder Alfred N’Diaye have helped address that issue, as would the potential signature of Graham

Perhaps the most pressing need is at centre-half, where most of the current personnel are either out of contract this summer or reaching the veteran stages of their careers.

O’Neill was unwilling to give anything away about either of his targets last night but confirmed: “We’re looking to bring players in.

“We’ve made bids for a couple of players but we haven’t done it overnight. We did it some time ago and now we just wait to see how it pans out.

“It’s the prerogative of other clubs to decide what they want to do. But there could be a host of signings over the next couple of days.

“I don’t know if that will be the case but that has been the way of it over the last few years. As for us, I’m hopeful of us doing something but I can’t guarantee that.

“I feel our options are a little bit limited despite the fact we’ve scored a few goals in recent weeks.”

O’Neill said, though, that even if Sunderland do not end up with reinforcements up front, he would not regret the decisions to allow Louis Saha to leave and Ji Dong-won to go out on loan to Bundesliga side Augsburg.

“I think Ji has started a couple of games and I’m pleased for him but I don’t think he would be the answer to our problems,” he said.

“As for Louis Saha, he played some games for us too and I wasn’t totally convinced he was the answer either.”

The smart money is on Graham completing a move to a club he wants to join, especially with Swansea set to get a good transfer fee for a player who does not seem to figure in Laudrup’s long-term plans.

Graham’s Geordie roots seem a problem for some supporters, who barracked the striker when he came on as a second-half substitute last night, but O’Neill shrugged that off.

“Danny Graham is reportedly a Newcastle fan, so the fans’ reaction is possibly quite a natural one,” he added. “But Bob Stokoe had strong connections with Newcastle too you know, and that didn’t work out to badly with Sunderland, did it?”

Swansea boss Michael Laudrup admitted he was uncertain where the striker’s future now lies.

“Even we, as managers – and I speak for a lot of managers here – don’t know exactly how things will work out in the transfer window,” he said.

“I think we just have to wait the 48 hours or however long it is now, because what it is the point in speculating?”