SUNDERLAND’S squad restructure has taken another major step forward with the arrival of midfielder Dylan McGeouch and full-back Reece James.

McGeouch joins as a free agent after rejecting a new deal at his former club, Hibernian, with James also making a free transfer to Wearside following his release from Wigan Athletic.

The pair successfully underwent medicals at Sunderland’s Academy of Light training ground yesterday, and will now fly to Portugal to join the rest of Jack Ross’ first-team squad at a warm-weather training camp.

Their arrival means the Black Cats have signed six players this summer, and attention will now switch to trying to move on some of the higher earners who have been deemed surplus to requirements in the wake of Sunderland’s relegation to League One.

Lamine Kone is currently training on Wearside with clubs in France and Turkey involved in discussions over his future, while Didier Ndong and Papy Djilobodji are still to return to pre-season training as their representatives attempt to engineer them moves away from the Stadium of Light.

McGeouch’s arrival was confirmed yesterday afternoon, and represents quite a coup given that Rangers and Aberdeen both made attractive offers to the 25-year-old.

A former trainee at Celtic, McGeouch joined Hibernian in 2015 and was a key factor in the club’s Scottish FA Cup success and subsequent promotion to the SPL.

He helped Hibs qualify for the Europa League last season, with his form earning him a maiden call-up to the senior Scotland squad earlier this summer.

“Dylan has been really good for Hibernian and that’s culminated in him earning international recognition,” said Ross. “There were a lot of teams interested in him because he’s at a good stage in his career and he’s absolutely desperate to come to England and show people how good a player he is. The fans will like him because he’s got a lot of quality.”

McGeouch will be at the heart of Sunderland’s new-look central midfield, and could find himself linking up with another new addition, Chris Maguire, next season.

“I’m eager to get into things and meet up with the new squad,” said McGeouch. “I want to meet the boys and get going now.

“Sunderland’s a massive club, everyone knows that, up the road as well. It’s a great place to be, and hopefully we can get the club back to where we should be. I’ve heard a lot of great things about the manager, and it’ll be exciting times to be able to work for him. It’s all positive.

“I hope the fans enjoy the performances from myself and the rest of the team. The supporters want the team to be a success, and get back to where we want to be, and hopefully I can be part of that.”

James’ arrival was confirmed shortly after McGeouch’s, with the left-back signing a one-year deal following his release from Wigan.

A former trainee with Manchester United, James joined the Latics in a £200,000 move in 2015. He made just under 50 senior appearances for Wigan, twice helping the club win promotion from League One.

“Reece played a big part in Wigan’s promotion last year and has good pedigree from his time with Manchester United earlier in his career,” said Ross.

“He’s another new signing who is at a good age, and he’s very good in the final third which will be big for us next season as we try to get our full-backs high up the park. He’s another good addition, and I think it’s exciting to see that we’re trying to build something.”

The Black Cats also swelled their academy ranks yesterday by signing ex-Liverpool midfielder Jordan Hunter. The 18-year-old joins Elliott Dickman’s Under-23s squad.