PHIL PARKINSON is hoping to complete the signing of defender Arbenit Xhemajli ahead of Sunderland’s season-opener against Hull City tomorrow, and is keen to push through a deal for Danny Graham at the start of next week.

Xhemajli is back in the North-East after briefly returning to Switzerland, where he has been playing for Neuchatel Xamax, in the wake of a trial at the Academy of Light.

He has been offered a permanent deal with the Black Cats, and is set to complete the formalities of completing his move in the next 24 hours. A centre-half who can also play in the full-back positions, the 22-year-old’s arrival will complete Parkinson’s defensive restructuring for the summer.

The Sunderland boss is keen to make further additions at the opposite end of the field though, and anticipates at least two other players following Xhemajli through the entrance door before the transfer window closes.

“It’s been well documented that we’ve been speaking to Arbenit Xhemajli, from Xamax over in Switzerland,” said Parkinson, ahead of tomorrow’s Carabao Cup first-round game. “He’s a player we’d like to bring in for many reasons - he’s a young player, he’s got good quality and he can play right across the back three or four. We’re close to bringing him in, and that would be a good boost for us in terms of having another young player who can work with and strengthen the squad.

“But we need at least another three players need to come in to make us strong enough. We’ve got to be realistic that we’ve almost got to have two XIs to meet the demands of the midweek games, that’s going to be the case this season. We’re not there yet, but we’re close to completing a deal before the weekend, which will be great for us, and then there are one or two others we’re waiting to fall our way next week.”

Graham is one of the players lined up for a possible arrival next week, with the former Sunderland striker having held a series of discussions with Parkinson and the Black Cats’ chief executive Jim Rodwell.

A free agent following his release from Blackburn Rovers at the end of last season, Graham is keen to return to Wearside having scored just one goal in 42 appearances during his first spell as a Sunderland player between 2013-16.

“Danny’s a player we’ve spoken to, along with a number of other players in that position,” said Parkinson. “There is an interest, as I’ve said already, and we’re working on that alongside another couple of things that could probably happen next week.”

While Parkinson has been working on arrivals in the last few days, Sunderland officials have also been attempting to engineer Aiden McGeady’s departure from Wearside.

The Republic of Ireland international spent the second half of last season on loan at Charlton Athletic, and while he has returned to the Academy of Light to train with Sunderland’s Under-23s, Parkinson is adamant there is no prospect of him returning to the first team.

“The window is open until October, so there’s plenty of time, but we just feel that the time is right for Aiden to move on,” he said. “We’ve got young players in the squad in (Elliot) Embleton and Dan Neil in particular who we want to give an opportunity to this season.

“Aiden has got the opportunity to move on. He had an extended break because he’d been with Charlton, and unfortunately he came back training with the Under-23s and pulled his calf. At the moment, he’s not on the training pitch, so he needs to get that right. It shouldn’t take too long, and then hopefully there’s a move for him that he fancies and is right for all parties.”