Bruce lining up summer targets
The manager's indication that he would attempt to push through up to three Bosman free signings during the opening weeks of the close-season has prompted a flurry of speculation in recent days. However, it is understood that, while groundwork is underway, no decisive move is imminent. Bruce does have an interest in both Coventry's Republic of Ireland keeper Keiren Westwood and Birmingham midfielder Sebastian Larsson, but he is not alone and clubs look to snap up the best of the players whose current contracts expire at the end of next month. Sources on Wearside have also reacted to reports that Blackpool midfielder David Vaughan has agreed a three-year deal by insisting that nothing is yet done and dusted on any front. The Sunderland boss was scheduled to meet owner Ellis Short and chairman Niall Quinn on Tuesday to discuss the club's latest recruitment drive with Bruce having earlier admitted he could be in the market for eight or nine new faces. Craig Gordon's ongoing injury problems - the Scotland international is expected to miss a significant proportion of the first half of the new season as he recovers from knee surgery - will leave 23-year-old Belgian Simon Mignolet as the club's senior keeper unless they decide to strengthen in that department. Westwood has proved himself one of the most capable goalkeepers in the npower Championship, and deputised ably at international level for Manchester City's Shay Given during his injury lay-off last season. However, Bruce's main focus for the summer will be further up the field with strikers his priority following Darren Bent's January departure, Danny Welbeck's return to Manchester United after a season-long loan spell and Fraizer Campbell's latest bout of knee surgery. That said, the return of four of Bruce's five loan signings to their respective clubs, as well as Bent's loss have left the manager with rebuilding work to do all over the pitch. The former Manchester United defender remains an admirer of long-term target Charles N'Zogbia, although Wigan manager Roberto Martinez is desperate to hang on to the Frenchman. Sunderland have also been linked with West Ham striker Demba Ba, but have played down their interest in the player.