SUNDERLAND will attempt to persuade Lawrence Shankland to turn down a summer move to Celtic as they look to reinforce their attacking ranks ahead of next season.

Shankland, who scored 34 goals in 41 appearances for Scottish Championship side Ayr United last season, is due to become a free agent at the end of this month, having turned down the option of a new deal with his current employers.

Sunderland boss Jack Ross has monitored the 23-year-old closely in the last few months, and is confident he is capable of making an impact at League One level.

However, Shankland’s performances in the Scottish second tier have also created headlines in his homeland, and Celtic boss Neil Lennon is interested in taking the youngster to Parkhead.

Glasgow-born Shankland, who played in the same Queen’s Park youth team as Liverpool full-back Andy Roberston, is aware of Celtic’s interest, and the lure of joining the Scottish champions, who recently completed an unprecedented ‘treble treble’ of trophy wins is understandable.

He would struggle to secure an immediate place in Celtic’s first team though, and Sunderland will be hoping the lure of first-team football at the Stadium of Light is sufficient to persuade him to cross the border for the good of his long-term career.

Ayr boss Ian McCall accepts he has lost the battle to hold on to Shankland, but he will help advise the forward on his next move and will be urging him not to join a club that will leave him languishing in the reserves.

“He has to go to a club where he will play,” said McCall. “There may be the option of a very, very big club, but would he play there every week, to take that next step and kick on again?

“One of them, it’s a club in Scotland and you need to be really mentally strong. That’s something I think Lawrence has, but the only way you find that is if you go through it. You can’t predict that, it’s something you have to live through to find out if you have it.

“There are a couple of pretty sizeable clubs in England where I’m pretty sure he would play. One in particular would suit him – a sleeping giant type club. He has three now to choose from.

“He scored goals with his right foot from 25 yards, with his left foot from 20 yards, he scores tap-ins, headers. He’s so fit and strong. I’m not even sure if he’s best as a number nine or number ten, but he’s not even close to how good he could be.”

Sunderland have also been linked with Charlton Athletic defender Jason Pearce, with the 31-year-old expected to leave the Valley this summer as the Addicks look to strengthen in the wake of their play-off final victory over the Black Cats.

Pearce, who is also interesting Portsmouth and Oxford United, has one year left on his current Charlton contract, and is one of the players Lee Bowyer is looking to move on to free up space on the wage bill for summer acquisitions.

In terms of potential Sunderland outgoings, Sheffield Wednesday have been credited with an interest in Lee Cattermole, although the Championship club could struggle to afford the midfielder’s wages.

Cattermole remains one of the highest-paid players on Sunderland’s books as his salary did not decrease following relegation to League One, but while his departure might make financial sense, Ross will be extremely reluctant to lose him given his importance last term.