SUNDERLAND have fallen behind Aston Villa in the battle to sign Robert Snodgrass, and could face another fight to hold on to Didier Ndong amid mounting interest from West Ham United.

Simon Grayson confirmed his interest in signing Snodgrass at the weekend, and while there was never any prospect of the Black Cats striking a permanent deal for the Scottish midfielder, who only joined West Ham in January, there were high hopes of striking a successful loan agreement.

Sunderland officials have held a number of discussions with their counterparts at the London Stadium, but Villa and Birmingham City are also keen to strike a deal and the former have made significant progress in the last 24 hours.

Villa boss Steve Bruce has been given permission to hold formal discussions with Snodgrass and his representatives, with Villa’s financial offer for a season-long loan deal understood to be more attractive than that of the club’s Championship rivals.

Bruce is hoping to wrap things up in the next 24 hours, and while Snodgrass is known to hold Grayson in high regard after the pair worked together at Leeds United, it will be difficult for Sunderland to trump Villa’s offer.

A failure to land Snodgrass would represent a blow, although Grayson always accepted it would be difficult to sign the midfielder, who signed a £70,000-a-week contract when he moved to West Ham.

The Hammers are hoping to make midfield additions of their own, and with their attempts to sign William Carvalho from Sporting Lisbon having stalled in the last few days, Slaven Bilic is considering a move for Ndong.

Sunderland’s record signing has been a pivotal player in the opening weeks of the season, but having shelled out £13.6m to sign the 23-year-old from Lorient, the Black Cats’ finances mean they will struggle to turn down an offer of anything close to that amount before the transfer window closes next Thursday.

Grayson has already identified Middlesbrough’s Grant Leadbitter as a potential replacement, but Boro boss Garry Monk does not want to lose the Wearsider, who was in impressive form in Tuesday’s Carabao Cup win over Scunthorpe United.