SUNDERLAND are on the verge of signing former Newcastle United transfer target Matthew Kilgallon after the Black Cats had a £2m offer accepted by Sheffield United.
In a significant psychological blow to the Magpies, Sunderland are expected to confirm his signing today and are hoping to push through another deal for a defender before the end of the week.
Kilgallon had been Newcastle’s number one target this month, but rejected a move to St James’ Park in order to stay at Bramall Lane, supposedly so he could negotiate a better contract for himself as a free agent in the summer.
But that was before Sunderland made their bid and the 26-year-old should be unveiled before this weekend’s FA Cup clash with Portsmouth, although he is cup tied and will not be able to play at Fratton Park.
The ex-Leeds United star has the added bonus of being able to play at left-back, offering a vital alternative across the backline given the team’s recent defensive problems in the 7-2 defeat by Chelsea last weekend.
Black Cats boss Steve Bruce had initially claimed he was not intending to do much business this transfer window, but Sunderland’s injury problems and subsequent slump in form has hastened the need for new faces at the Stadium of Light.
Kilgallon has never played in the Premier League, but he has been one of the most coveted players outside of the top flight this season and had been thought to be preparing for an end of season move to Everton.
Sunderland, though, have leapt in to snatch him away with an offer to both club and player that was too good to turn down.
The Wearsiders are also still hoping to lure Middlesbrough winger Adam Johnson to the club this month, although Boro have so far refused to consider selling him for
less than £10m, even though he will also be a free agent in the summer.
Meanwhile, David Healy is desperate to secure an exit from Sunderland as he urged interested clubs to push through a deal.
The 30-year-old Northern Ireland international has made just six appearances this season, all of them as a substitute, and has not started a single league game for the club in the two and a half years since his £1.5million arrival from Leeds.
The striker has been angling after a move for almost 12 months, but has not seen a pursuit of him turn into anything concrete, although Leeds have expressed an interest in taking him back to Elland Road.
“I know my future is not going to be at Sunderland,” said Healy, who was signed by former manager Roy Keane in August 2008. “I’m more than willing to go back to the Championship and get back to enjoying my football again.
“It’s been a disappointing time and people have said that it’s time to move on, but when you have a contract and a family where you live, sometimes it’s difficult.”
Although prolific for Northern Ireland, with 35 goals in 73 appearances, Healy has struggled at the top level with Fulham and Sunderland and no longer wants to be stuck on the fringes of the first team squad on Wearside.
Black Cats boss Steve Bruce will not prevent Healy from leaving if a suitable offer comes in, but he would rather sell than allow him to move out on loan. Healy added: “I haven’t got my eye on anywhere. I have been linked to a number of Championship clubs, but I can’t name anybody.”
Healy’s lack of football has had an unwelcome effect on the international front, where he lost his place in the starting line-up for the November friendly against Serbia, the first time he had been dropped for a home game at Windsor Park since he made his debut in February 2000. Meanwhile, Bruce has belatedly confirmed Sunderland’s interest in Hamburg defender Guy Demel as he also keeps an eye on former Newcastle target Matthew Kilgallon.
A deal for Demel is though to be close, although progress has been hampered by the 28-year-old’s involvement in the African Cup of Nations with the Ivory Coast.
Hamburg began the week denying they have had received any bids for the right-back, but Bruce disputes that and the player is expected to sign before the end of the month.
Bruce said: “We have expressed our interest in Guy Demel, but he's in Angola and we have to wait and see how that develops. I feel we are a bit short of cover defensively.”
l THE Journal understands Sunderland have offered a week-long trial to 18-year-old Whitley Bay keeper Tom Kindley.