MICHAEL TURNER is on the verge of finalising his move to Norwich City after Sunderland agreed terms on the sale of the central defender.
Turner travelled to Carrow Road to undergo a medical and discuss personal terms yesterday, with the defender set to become the 18th player to leave the Stadium of Light this summer.
No fee has yet been disclosed for the deal, but Sunderland can expect to receive a sizeable chunk of the £4million they paid Hull City three years ago.
Tellingly, Turner didn’t feature in Sunderland’s second Peace Cup game against Groningen on Sunday and he is now set to become the second signing by new Norwich boss and former Newcastle United manager Chris Hughton.
Even the knee injury suffered by fellow defender Wes Brown against Groningen has not persuaded Martin O’Neill to keep Turner on Wearside.
Turner’s position at Sunderland was always under threat this summer, as the former Charlton trainee entered the final year of his Black Cats contract.
The capture of Carlos Cuellar had left Sunderland well-served at centre-half, the Spaniard joining Turner, Brown, John O’Shea, Titus Bramble, Matt Kilgallon and youngsters Louis Laing and John Egan.
Sunderland were understood to be keen to offload one of Turner, Bramble or Kilgallon, with each of the trio having just 12 months remaining on their deals.
Turner was arguably the most likely of the three to remain at Sunderland after starting the final 20 games of last season – his longest consecutive run of first-team action since arriving at the Stadium of Light.
But with Bramble plagued by injuries last season and Kilgallon only returning from the wilderness in January, Turner was the most saleable asset of the three.
O’Neill has repeatedly been linked with a move for his former Aston Villa defender James Collins and speculation only increased yesterday amid Turner’s impending departure.
But O’Neill’s primary focus remains on attacking recruits and Sunderland are still blessed with central defensive options despite Brown’s injury and Turner’s sale.
If the sale is completed, Turner - who has made 77 appearances in red and white - will become the 18th player to be offloaded by the Black Cats since the end of last season.
Sunderland have been keen to lighten the load on their wage bill, particularly of players who are not likely to feature prominently in the first-team.
Nine players were released at the end of their contracts, including goalkeeper Craig Gordon, while Sunderland’s three loanees, Nicklas Bendtner, Wayne Bridge and Sotirios Kyrgiakos, were allowed to return to their parent clubs.
Those departures have been followed by the sales of Cristian Riveros, Asamoah Gyan, George McCartney, Marcos Angeleri, Michael Liddle and now Turner.