Sunderland closing in on sensational striker deal

Sunderland remain in talks with Jermain Defoe over an emotional return to Wearside, and there has been increased confidence that a deal could be reached.

The Black Cats are pressing on with their recruitment plans despite the departure of Lee Johnson on Sunday night, with a striker the key priority as they look to lessen the load on Ross Stewart while Nathan Broadhead recovers from a hamstring injury.

The club have been in talks with Defoe for over a fortnight on what is a complex deal, with the 39-year-old also having other options from within League One to consider.

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That remains the case, and sources indicated on Monday morning that a deal is not yet concluded. But there have also been indications that a deal is progressing and that an agreement moving closer.

Jermain Defoe could make an emotional return to Sunderland

Sunderland do not have to complete the signing before tonight's 11pm deadline, as Defoe is a free agent following his departure from Rangers by mutual consent earlier this month.

However, signs of a positive resolution would clearly bolster the Black Cats in giving some greater level of clarity as they bid to strengthen the squad elsewhere.

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Speaking before the heavy defeat to Bolton Wanderers on Friday, Johnson said that the club would be looking to 'bolster a couple of positions' before the window closes.

He said there was 'a case' for making additions at full back and central midfield, where injuries have left the squad light of late.

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It was also expected that some of the club's U23 squad, as well as Kosovan defender Arbenit Xhemajli, could also secure loan moves.