PAOLO DI CANIO is ready to step up interest in Tottenham's Tom Huddlestone after expressing a desire to find an English midfielder.
After months of pursuing a long list of foreign players, Di Canio has indicated a wish to land a homegrown middle-man to director of football Roberto De Fanti.
And Huddlestone, who has been under serious consideration all summer at the Stadium of Light, is one of the names at the top of Di Canio's wish-list – even though Tottenham thought earlier this summer they had already sold him.
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Sunderland are believed to have stalled on a £5m deal while they pursued other options on the continent.
But after a relatively successful period in the transfer market strengthening a number of areas in the Sunderland squad, Di Canio is keen to have a new playmaker before the visit of Fulham a week tomorrow.
It is understood both Danny Guthrie and Scott Parker, two former Newcastle midfielders, are also under consideration, with Sunderland reluctant to overspend this summer.
“The club is working on the two full-backs, but more important to me is the need to get a key player in central midfield – someone who’s English,” speaking from Denmark he said. “He needs to be English, with a physical presence, because we have analysed that that is a need we have.
“English, because he needs to know English football inside out. And also a player with very good quality – because we want to play attractive football which gets good results.”
The departure of winger James McClean to Wigan, believed to be for an initial £1.5m rising to £2m, has given Sunderland more money to spend.
But Di Canio and De Fanti are also still on the look-out for a left and right-back, while they have already been back in touch with Panathinaikos for teenage winger Charas Mavrias.
Sunderland have been in contact with the Athens club throughout the summer and have previously agreed a fee of £2.5m for the winger.
But, knowing priorities have changed following the acquisitions of wide players Emanuele Giaccherini and David Moberg Karlsson, Sunderland have cheekily had a request knocked back by Panathinaikos to take Mavrias on a season-long loan instead.
Di Canio is still not satisfied with the squad he has at his disposal and is keen to see more additions before the new Premier League begins.
Sunderland brought an end to their pre-season schedule in Denmark on Wednesday night when the Italian boss was furious with his team's display despite winning 1-0 against FC Midtjylland.
Adam Johnson's goal separated the two teams, but the manager was far from happy and was going to ban them from tucking in to a pre-match pasta buffet until he relented when the team coach was delayed.
Di Canio told reporters in Denmark: "I'm not happy. I was disappointed with the attitude. The attitude is crucial. We can talk about tactics during the season or technical mistakes that can be improved by practice, but the attitude is the thing you don't know.
"Some of my players are new, so I don't know. I would not be arrogant enough to think I can discover their attitude in two hours of playing. It was a big opportunity for all the players to show we are ready to start the season strong, but some of them failed to complete the mission.”
* Sunderland have been drawn at home against MK Dons in the second round of the Capital One Cup. The tie will take place during the week of August 26.