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Another damp squib transfer week; Sunderland enter pre-season end stage with serious squad gaps

Still little progress in the transfer market at Sunderland as the final week of pre-season fixtures gets underway tomorrow with significant gaps in the Black Cats squad.

Sunderland v Norwich City - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

A week which seemed to promise much ends without a signing at Sunderland as the countdown to the Championship season enters its final 14 days.

The exit of Vito Mannone - the only senior goalkeeper at the club with English league experience - and the arrival of a Dutch replacement with fitness doubts is the only activity of note in the gap-laden Black Cats squad.

FC Utrecht v Ajax Amsterdam - Dutch Eredivisie
Dutch goalkeeper Robbin Ruiter is on trial at Sunderland
Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

No need to panic perhaps but tomorrow’s trip to Bradford marks pre-season friendly number six of eight in the summer schedule.

With no signings likely before tomorrow’s 3pm kick-off at Valley Parade, that will leave just two summer warm-up games in which to blood any further new arrivals between now and the Championship kick-off on the 4th August. Still no reason to worry unduly of course but time is ticking.

An appearance from the signing of the summer so far - Aiden McGeady - will at least give the travelling fans from Wearside something to cheer tomorrow in West Yorkshire, but there remains no sign of the eagerly awaited striker Sunderland desperately need. Not to mention reinforcements in the centre of defence, at full back and in goal.

An appearance from Aiden McGeady tomorrow is highly anticipated as Sunderland’s signing of note so far this summer

The clear sell-to-buy policy which appears to be increasingly enveloping the Stadium of Light may well be impacting now on any further progress. The only real saleable assets remaining at Sunderland - Jeremain Lens, Lamine Kone and Wahbi Khazri - are still here and each will probably make some sort of appearance at Bradford tomorrow.

None are likely to be in a rush to depart now. Their agents are no doubt prepared to hang on until late in the transfer window to engineer a decent deal for their clients. Which seems to leave pretty much everything in limbo. Grayson remains stuck, presumably unable to pursue a deal until he raises some cash from a sale.

Much has been written about whether any of that trio of biggish names will remain at Sunderland. Certainly Lens and Kone remain certain departures as soon as a suitor arrives with a trolley-full of loot. As for Khazri, there are suggestions the Tunisian is actually content to stay but expects that if the Black Cats receive a bid for him, the club won’t be turning down any decent cash offer.

Hibernian v Sunderland - Pre Season Friendly
Wahbi Khazri in pre-season
Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Selling the ‘big three’ will mean the club will need to appease its fans though. And that will mean spending some of the cash on a couple of decent names. It may only be at that stage that some significant movement occurs. Supporters have remained patient with the lack of business so far but frustrations are already creeping in.

As for incomings, reports and gossip suggest Sunderland have targets identified but can make little progress without the cash to launch bids. The manager and assorted hacks and gossip-mongers continue to insist there are plenty of things happening behind the scenes but there always is at football clubs. And those sorts of assurances will only appease fans for so long.

The week that began with links to Ross McCormack and Cameron Jerome will finish with no progress on either and little to report.

Sources in Norfolk are anticipating that Jerome may stay at Norwich. That paper talk which suggested the 30-year-old striker was a target of Sunderland and Nottingham Forest was perhaps little more than idle gossip to link the player with the cash which landed at the City Ground after the sale of Britt Assombalonga.

The Canaries appear to remain keen to hang on to the forward who scored 16 goals in the Championship last term.

Sunderland v Norwich City - Premier League
Cameron Jerome playing against Sunderland in 2015
Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

Alternatively, there are others who claim Jerome was minded to listen to what Sunderland had to say and rejected Forest’s advances hence the Nottingham club moving to sign Daryl Murphy instead. A move later in the window for the Norwich man may yet happen.

Villa forward McCormack would attract a similar fee to Jerome - perhaps a little higher - and so Sunderland appear to be stuck in the same limbo with the Claret-and-blue striker as they are with his Norwich counterpart - no cash to wave at Steve Bruce to land the Scottish international.

A signing or two next week would raise anticipation levels a little at least ahead of next Saturday’s showpiece friendly with Celtic. But at the present rate of progress, perhaps we should avoid getting our hopes up.

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