Sunderland are set for another major recruitment push in the next seven days and hope to make former Czech Republic Under-21 full-back Ondrej Celustka the first of three new arrivals before the Fulham game.
Trabzonspor full-back Celustka is set to clinch a season-long loan in the next 48 hours as the Black Cats finally land the defensive cover that has eluded them all summer.
The 24-year-old arrives following two years in Turkey and a campaign with Italian club Palermo – and is viewed as competition for Craig Gardner rather than a guaranteed starter at right-back.
The player is set to arrive in the North East today for a medical and the club will be hoping the move does not suffer the last-minute hitches that prevented them from clinching deals for Bernard Mendy and Gino Peruzzi earlier in the summer.
It also represents the first of a series of major moves in the transfer market which Di Canio has demanded in the run-up to Sunderland’s season opener on Saturday.
The Italian wants to progress in the club’s pursuit of Tom Huddlestone and has also investigated the possibility of signing Juventus striker Fabio Quagliarella – although that move for the 30-year-old Italian international appears to depend on Stephane Sessegnon’s future at Sunderland.
The Black Cats are also interest in former Watford loanee Matej Vydra, who has been made available on loan again.
Reports in Italy suggested that Quagliarella had been persuaded by Sunderland’s director of football Roberto Di Fanti to swap Juventus
for the Black Cats this season, with the possibility of a season-long loan mooted.
West Ham and Norwich have also been linked with the striker, who has been made available by Juventus and is desperate for first-team football to try and secure his place at next summer’s World Cup finals.
But any incoming striker would likely be as a result of a move for Sessegnon, whose future remains unresolved despite some unequivocal statements from the player himself about his future.
The Journal understands that Sessegnon has been told he can leave the club and while he has insisted throughout the summer that he is happy on Wearside, a fresh set of links with a move to Qatar emerged over the weekend.
Di Canio had suggested last week that he was happy with his striking options – although he left room for a change in his viewpoint. He said: “We now have a good group of strikers with different characteristics and I can now make changes.
“If we have five strikers plus the young striker (Mikael Mandron) we have good competition for places.
“Last year we were struggling up front. Now we are struggling in the middle and full-backs area so we need others.”
Sunderland sources played down talk of the move and insisted there has been no contact at the moment but Sessegnon’s continued presence at the Stadium of Light is one of a number of unresolved issues Di Canio will be pressing for progress on this week.
The English ‘playmaker’ that Di Canio told The Journal he was desperate to secure out in Denmark remains the priority but there are other issues for the Black Cats boss, with the hope that both Lee Cattermole and Phil Bardsley will have left the club in the next seven days.
Fulham and Hull want Cattermole – possibly on a season-long loan – while there have been no takers at Sunderland’s asking price for right-back Bardsley, who has been training with the juniors recently.