Sunderland’s deals set to go down to the wire

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SUNDERLAND insist they have held no advanced discussions with Paul Scharner despite Hamburg SV claiming the former West Brom man is heading to the Stadium of Light.

Scharner continues to be linked with a loan move from German outfit HSV until the end of the season after being confined to the fringes in the Bundesliga since leaving the Hawthorns last summer.

HSV sporting director Frank Arnesen – the former director of football at Spurs – has even claimed that a temporary return to the Premier League would prove beneficial for the Austrian international, who has featured just four times for the club.

“Paul would like to play football, which is currently hard for us,” said Arnesen. “It would be nice if we could give Paul until the summer at Sunderland to get some match practice.”

But HSV appear to have jumped the gun, with Sunderland sources adamant that there have been no formal negotiations with either the German club nor Scharner, and that the Black Cats are not expecting any immediate arrivals.

Instead, Sunderland are bracing themselves for a late flourish in the transfer window after bringing Alfred N’Diaye and Kader Mangane to Wearside earlier this month.

O’Neill has been looking at the short-term loan market after bringing in Mangane until the end of the season and seeing an approach for ex-Everton midfielder Tim Cahill fall through.

And Scharner, left out of the HSV squad for yesterday’s win over Werder Bremen, fits the bill of a stop-gap solution with Premier League experience after spending six years at Wigan and then West Brom.

But while Scharner may have crossed Sunderland’s radar, O’Neill’s principal focus is on bringing a positive conclusion to the lengthy pursuit of Swansea striker Danny Graham.

The Swans visit the Stadium of Light tomorrow night and that may provide an opportunity to bring a resolution to Sunderland’s pursuit which has dragged on throughout the window.

Graham, himself, is hopeful of sealing a £5million switch to Sunderland after growing frustrated at seeing the move drag on, as Swansea wait to land a replacement before sanctioning his exit.

Stoke’s Kenywne Jones remains the Welsh side’s first-choice and there have been suggestions that there could be a swap deal between the two clubs.

But Swansea sources say that is unlikely to be a realistic scenario, particularly as the Chester-le-Street frontman is keen to return to the North East.

Sunderland’s bid to land Graham will dominate O’Neill’s agenda over the next few days though, with the Black Cats boss desperate to boost his attacking options before Thursday’s 11pm deadline.

Fraizer Campbell and Louis Saha have both departed the North East and O’Neill is concerned about an over-reliance on top scorer Steven Fletcher despite Sunderland moving away from relegation danger.

Chris Young