SUNDERLAND are battling with Ipswich Town on two different fronts as they look to add Luke Garbutt and Danny Graham to their squad for next season.

Black Cats officials have held talks over both players as Phil Parkinson looks to continue his summer rebuild, but Ipswich have also held discussions with the duo as Portman Road boss Paul Lambert attempts to make changes of his own.

As things stand, Sunderland officials remain relatively hopeful on both counts, with Graham’s North-East links potentially giving them an advantage in their fight for the 34-year-old.

Chester-le-Street-born Graham, who had a three-year spell at Sunderland between 2013-16, is a free agent after his contract with Blackburn Rovers expired at the end of last season.

He was an influential member of Tony Mowbray’s senior squad at Ewood Park last term, starting 14 Championship matches and making a further 24 substitute appearances, but he was not offered a new deal with Rovers.

He turns 35 in August and is unlikely to be offered a contract in the Championship, so will almost certainly have to set his sights on a move to League One.

A return to Sunderland would make considerable appeal, with Parkinson looking to replenish his attacking ranks after the departure of Kyle Lafferty, Antoine Semenyo and Benji Kimpioka.

However, Ipswich are willing to match the sums being discussed with Sunderland, and Graham will spend the next few days pondering his next move.

Garbutt is expected to make a decision on his future before the weekend, with Sunderland and Ipswich once again involved in a battle for his services.

Like Graham, Garbutt is a free agent following his release from Everton last season, and he too is set to drop down to League One to give himself the best chance of playing regular first-team football next season.

Sunderland have offered the 27-year-old a contract at the Stadium of Light, and are confident they have tabled a deal that will be acceptable to the Harrogate-born left-back.

However, Ipswich officials are understood to have made a final approach to Garbutt’s representatives over the weekend and remain hopeful of luring the defender to Suffolk.

Parkinson has signed Aiden O’Brien and Bailey Wright this summer, as well as agreeing a new deal with Tom Flanagan, and is hoping to make further inroads this week.

He has welcomed Elliot Embleton back into his first-team squad, and having been restricted to just five senior appearances last season as a succession of injury issues took their toll, the 21-year-old midfielder is desperate to make up for lost time next term.

Having entered the final year of his contract on Wearside, Durham-born Embleton accepts the next few months will be make or break in terms of his prospects of developing into an established first-team player with the Black Cats.

“For me, this season, it’s about getting as many minutes as I can to help the team win matches,” said Embleton. “It was obviously a shame about the way the season ended, but it gave me another few months to build the strength in my leg back up. I had some gym equipment at home, so I was doing my best with that while following a programme I had in place.”