KIERAN Richardson is edging towards the exit door, with the Sunderland man’s suitors finally showing their hand.
And Richardson is not likely to be the last out of the Stadium of Light before Friday’s transfer deadline day, with Hull City continuing their pursuit of Ahmed Elmohamady on a season-long loan.
Richardson has been linked with a move away from Sunderland all summer, with less than 12 months remaining on the utility man’s contract.
The 27-year-old has made it clear to Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill he wants to bring an end to his five-year stay on Wearside and move closer to his London roots.
And Fulham are now ready to match Sunderland’s asking price of around £2million for the former Manchester United man after entering into talks with the Black Cats, although there is still interest from QPR and West Ham.
But O’Neill is unlikely to give the go-ahead for Richardson’s departure before a replacement left-back is in place, with Sunderland continuing to be linked with Croatian international defender Ivan Strinic.
Blackburn’s Martin Olsson is another who has been on Sunderland’s radar, although the Championship outfit are thought to want in excess of £5m for the Swedish international and have not given up hope of the 24-year-old remaining at Ewood Park.
Namesake Jonas Olsson was also linked with the Black Cats over the weekend, with the Swede in the final year of his contract at West Brom.
But Olsson has barely featured at left-back for the Baggies and is thought to favour a move closer to London if he is to depart The Hawthorns.
Sunderland’s primary focus over the next few days, though, is likely to be on offloading players after splashing out £22million on Adam Johnson and Steven Fletcher last week.
Former Black Cats boss Steve Bruce remains eager to land Elmohamady, along with fellow midfielder David Meyler.
But Elmohamady looks the likeliest to leave before Friday, with Hull hoping O’Neill gives the go-ahead for a loan move.
Bruce said today: “We’ve got one or two irons in the fire, but that’s all it is at the moment.”
Blackburn remain keen on a loan deal for Connor Wickham, although boss Steve Kean is thought to ideally favour a more experienced striker.
And centre-half Titus Bramble is interesting Celtic, although any deal is likely to depend on the SPL side safely progressing through their Champions League qualifier against Helsingborgs tomorrow night after triumphing 2-0 in the first leg in Sweden.
Like Richardson, Bramble has less than a year remaining on his contract, but his position is safer following Michael Turner’s departure to Norwich City earlier this month.
And with Wes Brown still on the treatment table with a knee problem, O’Neill is wary of further depleting his defensive options.