SUNDERLAND are close to finalising a season-long loan for Lewis Grabban, but have been forced to admit defeat in their pursuit of the Bournemouth striker’s team-mate, Max Gradel.

Grabban is due on Wearside this morning to finalise the technicalities of his move to the Stadium of Light, with Bournemouth officials having sanctioned the switch yesterday.

Even if his loan move is confirmed swiftly, the 29-year-old striker will not be involved in Sunderland’s penultimate pre-season friendly at Scunthorpe United this evening. However, it is hoped he will feature in Saturday’s home game with Celtic to help put him in the frame for a place in the squad for the Black Cats’ opening Championship fixture against Derby County.

Grabban burst to prominence when he scored 35 goals in 87 league appearances during a two-year spell with Bournemouth that ended when he joined Norwich in 2014.

He re-joined Bournemouth two years later, but found himself on the fringe of the first-team picture under Eddie Howe.

He spent the second half of last season on loan at Reading, scoring three goals in 16 Championship appearances as the Royals made the play-offs, and was not awarded a squad number when Howe selected his senior group earlier this summer, partly because of Bournemouth’s signing of former Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe.

That alerted the Black Cats to his availability, and while Sunderland boss Simon Grayson remains interested in Bournemouth defender Marc Wilson, with talks still ongoing, it has proved easier to force through a deal for Grabban.

The Londoner is set to join James Vaughan, Joel Asoro and Josh Maja in Sunderland’s attacking ranks, although Grayson remains keen to sign at least one more striker before the transfer window closes.

He has contacted Aston Villa to discuss a possible loan deal for Ross McCormack, and while the financial details of the potential switch remain complicated, there is still a high degree of optimism that a loan can be agreed.

At the start of this month, Grayson was also hopeful of loaning Gradel from Bournemouth, but the winger’s pre-season performances have persuaded Howe to keep him at the Vitality Stadium.

Grayson worked with Gradel during his time at Leeds United, and had been keen to add the winger to his squad.

A deal looked likely a few weeks ago, with Gradel having been frozen out of the first-team picture for the majority of last season, but the 29-year-old’s performances on the training ground have impressed his boss.

French club Toulouse are also interested in securing Gradel’s services, but Howe can see the Ivory Coast international playing a more prominent role with Bournemouth this season.

“His attitude has been so good that we would be very reluctant to lose him,” said Howe. “He has had a good pre-season so far. He has trained very well, and is an important part of our squad. We’ve treated him as he deserves to be treated due to his attitude since he came back from injury.”

Sunderland return to action at Glanford Park tonight, with a fit-again Aiden McGeady set to be involved after he was forced to sit out Saturday’s 3-2 win over Bradford City.