Sunderland kick-off pre-season begins without a recognised senior striker with impending departure of Fabio Borini

Fabio Borini.
Fabio Borini.

Sunderland’s first-team players return to the Academy of Light for pre-season training today, but striker Fabio Borini won’t be with them.

The 26-year-old Italian is set to join AC Milan after the Italian giants pipped Lazio to a deal.

Borini was given permission to fly to Italy yesterday to discuss personal terms, and will have a medical today ahead of the move.

Talks regarding a fee are ongoing, but Sunderland are expected to bank in the region of six million euros for a player who scored just twice last season.

It leaves the Black Cats without a recognised senior centre-forward in the squad as they begin their preparations for the new season. Victor Anichebe has joined Beijing Enterprises after his contract expired, while confirmation of Jermain Defoe’s move to Bournemouth is imminent.

Duncan Watmore has been used primarily as a winger and is continuing his recovery from a long-term injury, while Joel Asoro still has only four first-team appearances to his name.

Robbie Stockdale will lead pre-season preparations as takeover talks and the search for a new manager continues.

Sunderland face Bury in their first pre-season match next Friday following a five-night training camp in Austria.

Meanwhile, right-back Donald Love is hoping to use the pre-season schedule to secure a spot for when Derby County visit in the first Sky Bet Championship game on Friday, August 4.

He said: “Last year was up and down, so I want to cement my place in the team,

“Everyone aims for the same thing when you get back in training and that’s to be in the starting XI on the opening day of the season.

“Everything is now about that first game against Derby County.

“It was a long season last year, but now we have a fresh start and we can’t wait to get back at it.”

Chief scout Mick Doherty is, meanwhile, expected to leave the club.

Doherty was brought to the club by former manager David Moyes, whom he worked with at Everton. The Black Cats struggled in the transfer market last season as a number of signings made little impact.