STEVE Bruce intends to use the wages freed up by Steed Malbranque's move to St Etienne to fund a move for a left-sided midfielder - but Danny Welbeck is definitely off the Sunderland radar.
Winger Malbranque was in France yesterday undergoing a medical as he moves closer to a move back to his native country, allowing Sunderland to use some of the savings in wages to balance their squad.
The Journal understands that Malbranque, who is yet to agree terms with the Ligue 1 side, is one of the best paid players at Sunderland and the removal of his salary will give them scope to look at options on the left.
Despite speculation surrounding a move for Adam Johnson there has been no approach to Manchester City, although Leeds United’s Max Gradel – primarily right-footed but able to play on the left – was watched on Saturday, when he impressed in a pre-season friendly against Newcastle.
Gradel is ready to count himself out of the African Nations Cup in order to pave a move to a top-flight club.
However, one player not joining Sunderland will be Welbeck, who made a big impact on loan at the Stadium of Light last year before injury curtailed his season. Bruce has contacted Manchester United on several occasions to see if the England striker will be allowed to re-join Sunderland on a season-long loan but has privately ruled it out.
The form of Stephane Sessegnon in pre-season has helped make up his mind on that point, the Benin forward dove-tailing effectively with Asamoah Gyan in the last couple of games and weighing in with his own goal-scoring contribution.
Bruce revealed yesterday that Malbranque would be allowed to leave, saying: “Of course, Steed has done remarkably well for the club over the last two or three years, but it’s maybe time that he moves on, and we wish him well.
“I think it’s in advanced talks so maybe there’ll be something to report there soon. We’ve decided to say okay, inevitable with the amount of people we’ve brought in and the balance of the squad.”
With Malbranque leaving, Bruce anticipates more departures from Sunderland before the end of the transfer window.
George McCartney is in negotiations with an unnamed club with Estudiantes looking to take defender Marcos Angeleri back to Argentina.
But interest from Birmingham in Matt Kilgallon appears to have cooled following their signing of Jonathan Spector.
A move for the former Leeds and Sheffield United defender is now off Chris Hughton’s agenda, as he has limited funds to re-shape his Blues squad following the financial turmoil at St Andrews.
“I would envisage there’ll be two or three leaving the club in the next few days,” Bruce added.
“It looks like Angeleri might be going back to Argentina and there’s a possibility that George McCartney might be going out too.”