THE Sunderland clear-out is set to step up a gear this week as Birmingham City prepare a move for unwanted defender Matt Kilgallon.
Steve Bruce needs to get fringe men off the Black Cats’ wage bill if he wants to fund further purchases and revealed on Sunday that Kilgallon, George McCartney and Nyron Nosworthy are also close to departing.
Those moves would give Bruce a fighting fund to add the finishing touches to a major rebuilding project that has seen nine new players join Sunderland’s squad this summer.
And the positive news is that a permanent move away from Wearside is in the offing for centre-back Kilgallon, who was signed from Leeds in a £1million deal 18 months ago.
Sources close to the player have confirmed that Blues are the club interested in ending his frustrating stint at Sunderland.
Current Birmingham boss Chris Hughton has a long-standing interest in the former Sheffield United man, having tried to sign him when he was
Newcastle United boss. And he is now ready to take the defender to St Andrew’s after losing Roger Johnson to Wolves last week.
Fellow centre-back Scott Dann is also set for a move away from Birmingham before the start of the season.
The money recouped by those transfers should ease the financial pressure on Birmingham and allow Hughton to start recruiting for the Championship campaign.
Birmingham are also in the hunt for McCartney, while Nosworthy is another set for a move before the start of the season.
Meanwhile, The Journal understands that Sunderland have been offered Leeds United winger Max Gradel – the subject of a £2.5million bid from West Ham last week.
Bruce is still in the market for a left winger and Gradel, who enjoyed a sensational season for Leeds last year, is an alternative target if Charles N’Zogbia completes his protracted move to Aston Villa.
The Ivory Coast winger would cost around a third of the £10million being quoted by Wigan as the asking price for N’Zogbia – a deal that Bruce told to The Journal was “too rich” for the Black Cats.
While it would be unwise to count Sunderland out of the race for N’Zogbia given the close relationship between the player and his former manager, it is difficult to see how sufficient funds could be raised to fund both his transfer fee and wages of £65,000 a week.
N’Zogbia is understood to prefer a return to the North East, but Aston Villa want to push a move through quickly.
Bruce has already recruited Seb Larsson, who can play on the left, but is eager to add more competition to his squad in that slot.
Larsson impressed in Sunday’s first German tour fixture against Arminia Bielefeld with his delivery, and admitted that his new boss had told him to assume dead-ball duties.
“It was nice to play a part in the goal. Michael (Turner) did brilliantly with the flick in the near post area and Stéphane (Sessegnon) came up with a good finish,” he said.
“We’ve worked on that in training and talked about it because it’s important to be good in both boxes. That’s what wins you games.”