PHIL PARKINSON admits the introduction of a League One salary cap has already forced Sunderland to abandon some of their previous transfer targets.

A majority of League One clubs voted to introduce salary restrictions for the 2020-21 season last week, with clubs in the third tier now only allowed to spend a maximum of £2.5m a year on wages.

Players signed before the cap was introduced will be assigned a divisional average when calculating wage commitments next season, and Parkinson admits Sunderland had been hoping to push through a couple of deals before the end of last week.

The Black Cats are known to have held a series of discussions with free agents Luke Garbutt and Danny Graham, and are also understood to have offered a contract to midfielder Scott Fraser following his release from Burton Albion.

However, all three players are also attracting interest from the Championship, and Parkinson was unable to push through a deal for any before the EFL vote. As a result, he is already having to look elsewhere as the new salary restrictions mean he is having to work to a vastly-reduced budget when it comes to wage offerings.

“We tried to get a couple of players in before Friday, but those deals didn’t go over the line,” said Parkinson. “ It was really the agents and the players’ decision on those ones. When you’re going for players that maybe have Championship interest as well, it can be difficult because you’re competing for those players.

“We’ve had to change tack a little bit over the last couple of days, and reassess what we’re going to do. I’m still confident we’ll have a strong squad, but one or two players who maybe we thought we could have got last week are not in the market place for us now.”

As well as re-signing Tom Flanagan, Sunderland have made two additions since the end of last season, recruiting Aiden O’Brien and Bailey Wright.

Wright made a positive impression during his loan spell on Wearside last season, and Parkinson is delighted to have the centre-half back in his squad.

“Bailey’s a very good player, and he’s a character who offers leadership qualities too,” said Parkinson, in an interview with SAFC Unfiltered, the club’s new podcast. “That’s so important. He’s a good role model in and around the training ground.

“He’s captained teams before at Championship level, and all managers are always saying they need some more leaders. Those types of players are hard to find.

“I feel Bailey firmly fits into that category, and he was a player right at the start of the summer I was wanting to sign. It’s took us a while to get the deal done, but I’m so pleased we’ve got Bailey on board and he’s going to be a key player for us.”

O’Brien spent last season playing with Millwall in the Championship, and moves to the North-East having put in almost a decade of service with the Lions after progressing from the London club’s academy ranks in 2011.

He is ready for a new challenge, and while he spent most of last term playing in a wide-midfield role, Parkinson sees him playing further up the field in the red-and-white of Sunderland.

The Black Cats is set to stick with the 3-4-3 formation he moulded in the latter stages of last season, and O’Brien has been earmarked to challenge for one of the wide attacking positions.

“Aiden is a player who can play up top or in behind a striker,” said Parkinson. “In the system we played last season, 3-4-3, he can play in one of those number ten roles, where (Lynden) Gooch and Chris Maguire played.

“He gives us a lot of options. He’s a versatile attacking player. When he was at Millwall, he quite often played on the left of a 4-4-2, but saw himself more as a striker. But even from that position, he always chipped in with goals.

“Especially in the promotion year from the First Division, he got a good tally of goals, all from open play. I feel he’s a player who’s ready for another challenge in his career. He’s been at Millwall since he started and he’s 26 now. I just felt he was eager to have a fresh start and we’ve been really pleased with him so far in the first ten days.”