SUNDERLAND have secured a second Coventry City player to add to Jack Ross’ squad – with an earlier summer recruit admitting he has been instantly impressed by what is on offer at the Academy of Light.

The Northern Echo has been told the Black Cats have agreed a deal to sign central defender Jordan Willis and he completed a medical on Friday.

The 24-year-old rejected the offer of a new deal with the Sky Blues and he has been on Wearside to complete a move to Sunderland. He teams up with former Coventry goalkeeper Lee Burge, who made his debut against South Shields on Thursday night.

Ross spoke after that game about how he was close to signing a new defensively minded talent. Willis is another who has spent his career at Coventry and he has attracted interest from the Championship, but has opted for Sunderland.

He has been a regular in the defence for Coventry but has decided the time is right for a new challenge.

The Willis deal means he will become Sunderland’s third senior first team signing of the summer following Burge and Conor McLaughlin’s arrivals.

McLaughlin insists he will not be taking his place for granted after dropping back down to League One.

The 27-year-old made the decision to join after leaving Millwall and he is expected to slot straight into Ross’ starting line-up given his experience of the Football League.

McLaughlin played on the right of three central defenders in the opening friendly with South Shields on Thursday night but is just as comfortable on the right, either as a wing-back or full-back.

And with Willis also arriving following the departure of Donald Love, McLaughlin already believes there is strong competition for a shirt at Sunderland.

“It's never a given in football,” said McLaughlin. “You have to make sure you nail down your place. We tried out a different formation at South Shields and I don't know which we'll play at the start of the season.  “It's never a given you'll be in the starting team, especially at a club like this. We've got a lot of good players, everything is going to be fighting for a starting place.

“I played wing-back at Fleetwood last time I played in League One. I've played on the right of a back three for Northern Ireland and Fleetwood, so I'm comfortable. I'll just play wherever I'm needed.”

McLaughlin spoke to Northern Ireland team-mates Tom Flanagan and Will Grigg about life at Sunderland before committing to a move to the North-East, although he didn’t take much convincing and certainly hasn’t got any early regrets.

“The manager has been brilliant with me, training has been brilliant,” said McLaughlin. “He's really involved with it, a really good coach and man manager.   “I've not noticed anything from last season, like a hangover. I watched the play-off final defeat to Charlton but everyone seems to be looking forward to this season and trying to get up.

“The facilities are unbelievable, the manager, staff and everyone at the club has made me feel really welcome. The training has been brilliant, I've really enjoyed the first week and a half and it's good to get out on the pitch again.”

Sunderland were left despondent and deflated in May when, after a gruelling 62-game season, they were left with nothing but two Wembley appearances to show for their exploits. There was certainly no promotion party and now they have to face a second season in the third tier for the first time in the club’s history.

McLaughlin said: “Sunderland is a massive club so once I heard about the interest I was buzzing to get the move. Hopefully the experience of last year will help everyone. They've had a year in the league now and know what it's about.

“The gap is smaller now between League One and the Championship so it’s a tough place to play. You see a lot of Championship clubs now taking League One and League Two players on. The gap is getting smaller and there's a lot of big clubs in League One now so it will still be hard and we have to be ready.”

Sunderland will head to Portugal for the next leg of their pre-season schedule and when they return they will be gearing towards a friendly with Heerenveen on July 27 at the Stadium of Light.

Ross is looking to use more youngsters this season, believing there is quality within the club’s ranks that have not been used as often as they should have been. Two of those likely to be given greater roles are midfielders Elliot Embleton and Ethan Robson.

The Sunderland manager said: “Ethan and Elliot have both played in tough leagues, they both needed that experience. They have come back with more maturity from their loans, as people and players. I have been pleased with them since they came back.  “I want them to be given every opportunity to play and prove that we don’t need to recruit from elsewhere when we have players within our own system. Players like that in our system, we would probably have to pay a lot of money for players like that. We just need to give them the opportunity.”