SUNDERLAND will sign Kosovan defender Arbenit Xhemajli this week – but Phil Parkinson is adamant Aiden McGeady does not have a future with the Black Cats despite the winger returning to training with the club’s Under-23s.

Parkinson’s side completed their pre-season preparations with a 1-0 win over Harrogate Town on Saturday, and the Sunderland boss expects to have Xhemajli as part of his squad by the time the real action begins with a Carabao Cup first-round game against Hull City this weekend.

The free agent had a trial at the Academy of Light earlier this month and was part of the Sunderland side that beat Gateshead in their first pre-season game.

He returned to Switzerland while discussions over his future continued, but was back in the UK at the weekend after Parkinson gave the green light for a contract offer.

A medical is planned for the next few days, and provided there are no complications, Xhemajli should be available for Saturday’s season-opener.

There is a chance Parkinson could make one more addition before the end of the week, but with the new League One salary cap restrictions limiting Sunderland to a squad of just 22 players aged over 21, the Black Cats boss is mindful of the need to leave one or two spots open in case transfer opportunities present themselves at the end of the transfer window, which is not due to close until mid-October.

“Arbenit is back in the country, and talks with that one are ongoing,” said Parkinson. “Hopefully, we can add one or two to what we’ve got. As I and every manager keeps saying, strength in numbers is going to be very important this season.

“We’ve got one or two other things that we’re going to have a chat about now as a staff, to see where we go with our options. We know what we need, we know the question marks on the office wall that we need to fill. We’re working towards that.”

Parkinson remains determined to sign a striker this summer, with free agent Danny Graham still uppermost in his thoughts. The former Sunderland forward is keen on a return to the Stadium of Light, but is still building up his fitness following his release from Blackburn Rovers.

“The transfer window is open for a while yet,” added Parkinson. “We want to get the balance between being strong enough to start the season, and leaving one or two gaps available so that if players become available later in the window, we have the resources and spaces within the salary cap rules (to be able to complete a transfer).”

McGeady will not be part of Sunderland’s squad next term, with Parkinson adamant there is no way back for the winger even though he is still contracted to the club until the summer of 2021.

Having returned to training with the Black Cats’ Under-23s, McGeady has suffered a calf injury that will limit his involvement in the next few weeks. Sunderland officials are desperately trying to offload him, but his wages mean it will be difficult to find new employers unless the Wearsiders either supplement part of his pay packet or agree a financial settlement that will bring his contract to an end.

“Aiden has come back and been training with the Under-23s,” confirmed Parkinson. “I want to focus on the group that is here. I don’t want to block the pathway of our young players. We’ve got some good young players, and I think it is time for the Elliot Embletons and the Dan Neils of this world to step up to the plate and be part of our first-team squad.”

Saturday’s friendly win at the Stadium of Light came courtesy of an 84th-minute strike from Will Grigg, who was a second-half substitute for Charlie Wyke.

Parkinson’s starting line-up comprised the bulk of the team that will start this weekend’s Carabao Cup game, with Chris Maguire and Lynden Gooch having played either side of Wyke in a 3-4-3 formation.

Luke O’Nien and Denver Hume started as wing-backs, with Josh Scowen partnering Max Power at the heart of midfield. Tom Flanagan started in the back three, but will be unavailable on Saturday because of international commitments with Northern Ireland.