Bruce steps up pursuit of trio

The Black Cats had a joint bid amounting to more than

£12million accepted for Darron Gibson, Wes Brown and John

O’Shea several weeks ago, but have not yet managed to push through

a move for any of them. Now with competitors lining up to challenge

Bruce in the race to capture the three, he is hoping to make a

breakthrough after a whirlwind of transfer activity on Wearside

last week. Republic of Ireland international O’Shea seemed the most

unlikely of the trio to end up at the Stadium of Light, and

although there have been positive noises on that front in recent

days, Arsenal and Stoke have also been linked with him. The

Potters, as well as Everton, have been touted as possible

purchasers for fellow defender Brown, while midfielder Gibson’s

name is also on Newcastle boss Alan Pardew’s list. Sunderland are

due to start pre-season training on Wednesday, and there will

already be a series of new faces in attendance with Connor Wickham,

Ji Dong-won, Craig Gardner, Keiren Westwood and Sebastian Larsson

having joined the club, while Ahmed Elmohamady’s loan move has

become permanent. But Bruce is determined to make a big push this

season and his shopping mission is not yet over. He could yet be in

the market for another striker – he currently only has Asamoah

Gyan, Wickham and Ji on the books – although sources on Wearside

today played down reports linking the club with Stuttgart’s Russian

frontman Pavel Pogrebnyak. But following the return of loan

signings Nedum Onuoha and John Mensah to their respective clubs,

defence is now a priority, and that is why he is hoping to make

progress on O’Shea and Brown.