SUNDERLAND made a fresh push for Will Buckley yesterday, and are close to agreeing a £3m fee for the Brighton midfielder.
Gus Poyet is keen to sign Buckley, having worked with the winger when he was the manager at the Amex Stadium, and an initial round of talks took place last weekend.
At that stage, Sunderland were unable to agree a fee with the Seagulls, having initially hoped to land 24-year-old Buckley for around £2m.
Their prospects improved when West Brom dropped out of the race for the winger, and Black Cats officials made further contact with their counterparts on the south coast yesterday.
Having been an unused substitute as Brighton kicked off the Championship season with a 1-0 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday, Buckley was not even in the squad as the Seagulls beat Cheltenham 2-0 in the Capital One Cup first round last night.
And speaking after the game, Brighton boss Sami Hyypia effectively conceded that he expects Buckley to be leaving for pastures new.
When asked about Buckley, the former Liverpool defender said: "He wasn't available for selection." When asked why, Hyppia responded: "I think you'll hear it in a few days."
Buckley moved to Brighton from Watford for £1m three years ago, but only signed a new four-and-a-half year deal on the south coast 18 months ago.
His influence has waned since Poyet departed a little over a year ago, but the Sunderland boss has clearly been determined to become reunited with the winger, and after some tough negotiating, he appears to have got his way.
Meanwhile, Poyet has confirmed Jozy Altidore is set to be included in the squad for Saturday’s Premier League opener at West Brom despite having barely featured during pre-season following his World Cup exploits with the United States.
Altidore was given an extended break after suffering a hamstring injury in the early stages of the US’s World Cup campaign, but returned to action in last weekend’s friendly against Udinese and is set to be involved in Saturday’s game at the Hawthorns.
“Jozy is coming along well,” said Poyet. “We were thinking he could feature for 30 to 45 minutes (against Udinese) and the idea was to get him to play a part in case we need him in any games.
“I’m sure he will be working a little bit more this week, and a full week of proper training will help him be part of the squad (at West Brom).”