Sunderland continue to cast their net far and wide ahead of Thursday’s transfer deadline - but they are set to be priced out of a move for Jordan Hugill.
Sheffield Wednesday frontman Jordan Rhodes is the latest name in the frame with the Black Cats having made an inquiry about his availability, while Simon Grayson remains hopeful a loan deal for Aston Villa striker Ross McCormack can be struck.
Preston North End striker Hugill, meanwhile, has been on Grayson’s radar all summer.
But the striker’s asking price has steadily risen this summer and Preston are under no pressure to sell, with Sunderland focusing efforts on other targets with Grayson’s list of potential targets updated daily.
Reading, Birmingham City and Wolves had also been keen on Hugill - reportedly the subject of a rebuffed £8million bid from Reading - but Preston boss Alex Neil has made it clear they don’t need to sell.
Sunderland are braced for a busy final 72-hours given the need to add more quality but Grayson and chief executive Martin Bain are working to tight financial parameters.
Sunderland have so far spent just £1.25million with seven players arriving on Wearside - four permanent deals and three loan signings.
Hugill’s rising price tag would put him out of reach unless the transfer kitty received a significant boost from player sales.
Preston boss Neil said: “They’re our players and we don’t need to sell them. It’s not as if anybody’s got a gun to our head and we need to get rid of them.”
Sunderland’s desperate need for further firepower up front was again highlighted in the dismal 3-0 defeat to Barnsley.
Grayson is understood to be a big fan of Rhodes having worked with him at Huddersfield Town and the Black Cats would prefer a loan deal if they firm up their interest.
Rhodes, the Owls’ £8million record-signing, has struggled to make a big impact at Hillsborough, scoring five goals in 25 appearances since moving from Middlesbrough.
Owls head coach Carlos Carvalhal, who has rotated his strikers, has not ruled out players departing Hillsborough before Thursday.