ASTON VILLA have told Sunderland they are not interested in a loan deal for Ross McCormack – and are hoping to recoup at least £8m from the sale of the striker.

Sunderland boss Simon Grayson remains determined to add another forward to his ranks, despite having already agreed deals for James Vaughan and Lewis Grabban this summer.

He identified McCormack as a leading target at an early stage of his reign, and Sunderland officials have flagged up their interest to their counterparts at Villa Park.

Villa boss Steve Bruce fell out with McCormack last season, and while the Scotland international has spent some of this summer training with the first-team squad, he has been told he is free to leave if an acceptable deal can be struck.

Sunderland have proposed a loan deal, but Villa rejected their offer as they would rather sell McCormack permanently.

That could prove easier said than done though, particularly if the Villa hierarchy stick to their current £8m valuation of the striker, who turns 31 next month.

Villa paid £12m to sign McCormack from Fulham, but his stock has plummeted dramatically in the last few months after Bruce accused him of skipping training.

Reading, Derby and Hull have also been in touch with Villa officials, but none are prepared to go anywhere close to £8m.

As well as looking to make further additions, Grayson has also been fielding interest in some of his own players.

Beskitas are looking to sign Jeremain Lens, but have not been able to come up with an offer that Sunderland would deem acceptable.

Lens spent last season on loan with Turkish side Fenerbahce, scoring five goals and providing 17 assists, and Besiktas are looking to take him back to the Super Lig.

Sunderland are keen to sell Lens, despite his impressive recent performances in pre-season, but will be keen to recoup the majority of the £8m they shelled out to sign the Dutchman from Dynamo Kiev in 2015.

The Black Cats complete their pre-season preparations this afternoon when they host Celtic in their final friendly.

The game marks the 20th anniversary of the Stadium of Light, and provides an opportunity for Aiden McGeady and Adam Matthews to line up against their former employers.

Matthews made more than 100 league appearances during a four-year spell at Parkhead, but has found himself on the fringe of things since moving to Sunderland.

He spent last season on loan at Bristol City, and would almost certainly have left Wearside on a permanent basis this summer had David Moyes remained in charge.

Instead, Simon Grayson’s arrival has given the full-back an opportunity to turn things around, and he could yet find himself in the starting line-up for Sunderland’s opening Championship game against Derby County in six days’ time.

“It’s been a tough few years,” said Matthews. “I came in and then had an injury, so this is probably the first full pre-season that I have had with Sunderland.

“It’s been really enjoyable, and the new manager has brought a new lease of life – not only to me, but the whole team. It feels like we are going in the right direction, and I’m sure we will be fine this season.”

Matthews has been especially impressed with Grayson’s attempts to bring his squad together, and feels Sunderland’s developing team spirit will be a crucial factor over the course of the next nine months.

“The main part of this league is being together,” he said. “It is a tough, tough league. The team is together and we have two games a week, so we need a great team spirit and so far in pre-season, we have had that. Hopefully, that continues.

“I think everyone will be glad when pre-season is over. It has been a tough pre-season, but it has been enjoyable. There was a lot of work that needed to be done, but the boys are just raring to go for the new season now.”