SUNDERLAND are hoping to tie up a deal for Bailey Wright following the official end of the defender’s contract at Bristol City.

Wright, who spent the second half of last season on loan at the Stadium of Light, is now a free agent after he was formally released from Ashton Gate.

The 27-year-old made five senior starts for the Black Cats, and quickly established himself as one of Phil Parkinson’s preferred options at centre-half.

He has already held preliminary discussions with Sunderland officials over a potential long-term deal, and further talks are anticipated in the next few days.

He has also been approached by at least two other clubs in League One, but Parkinson is hoping his spell at the Stadium of Light will help persuade him to commit to the Black Cats.

The Sunderland boss is hoping to recruit “seven or eight” players this summer, although the continued uncertainty about a return date for League One is understandably hampering his ability to start making progress.

An EFL board meeting this week came up with two proposed dates for a resumption of League One – August 29 or September 12 – although with a number of clubs extremely reluctant to play matches behind-closed-doors, much will depend on how the government’s social distancing regulations evolve over the next couple of months.

“The recruitment process is in place, and we have had a lot of meetings via Zoom calls,” said Parkinson, in an interview with BBC Newcastle. “We’ve been speaking to players and agents over those calls, and looking to piece the squad together, getting players in to fill the positions we feel we need to strengthen. Seven or eight players is about what we are looking to bring in.

“Obviously, Tom Flanagan has got a contract offer, and we are in negotiations with another player who I feel we are close to getting a deal done with. After that, like every summer, it’s a case of being patient and making sure you get the best players for the budget available to you.”

Chris Maguire has re-signed for Sunderland after all parties agreed to trigger an extension clause in his contract, but goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin opted to leave Wearside at the end of his deal in order to sign for Rangers.

Sunderland lost another of their academy players yesterday as 18-year-old striker Cole Kiernan left the club to sign a professional contract with Middlesbrough.