SUNDERLAND remain hopeful of signing Ethan Galbraith – but the Black Cats might have to wait until August before they can finalise a deal for the Manchester United youngster.

With the start of the new League One season now less than four weeks away, Lee Johnson and the rest of Sunderland’s recruitment team continue to target new additions in a range of different areas.

Midfield is a priority position, with Max Power, Josh Scowen and Grant Leadbitter all having left since the end of last season.

Alex Pritchard has signed as a free agent following his release from Huddersfield Town, and was part of the Sunderland squad that headed to Scotland for a training camp today ahead of Saturday’s second pre-season outing at Hearts.

However, Johnson still needs additional midfield reinforcements, with 20-year-old Galbraith having been identified as a leading target.

Sunderland officials have held an initial round of talks with their counterparts at Manchester United, and are hoping to complete an agreement for a season-long loan.

Ole Gunnar Solksjaer is expected to sanction Galbraith’s departure, but with a number of his senior players only now starting their holidays following their involvement at Euro 2020, the United boss has delayed making a final decision over his loan plans for his youngsters.

As a result, while Galbraith is still likely to leave before the end of the transfer window, Solksjaer has warned the Northern Ireland international’s suitors that it could be August before he heads away from Manchester.

“We’ve got six weeks together before the league starts, and a couple of training camps here in the UK,” said Solksjaer. “The young kids will definitely be part of the Derby game (this Sunday) and then we’ve got another couple of games coming up and they can be part of it.

“Gradually, more and more players from the Euros will join in. They’ll (the young players) get a taste of some football, then roundabouts early August, some will go on loan. We’ve already lined up a few, and some of them are still in discussions between us and the players about where is the best place to go.”

Sunderland’s hopes of re-signing Dion Sanderson look to have diminished significantly, with Sheffield United reportedly ready to meet Wolves’ £2m asking price for the centre-half.

The Black Cats had discussed a £1m offer with the Molineux hierarchy, while Newcastle are also understood to have had a £1.5m bid rejected. Sheffield United officials have held new talks this week though, with Sanderson seemingly set for a move to Bramall Lane.

At the other end of the pitch, Sunderland held an interest in Joe Pigott, only for the striker to join fellow League One side Ipswich Town from AFC Wimbledon. Pigott, who scored 22 goals in League One last season, joins Ipswich as a free agent.

Sunderland’s first-team squad headed to Scotland today, with Johnson looking forward to a change of scenery ahead of Saturday’s friendly at Tynecastle.

“It gives us an opportunity to have five or six days of intense work,” said the Sunderland head coach. “Some are ahead of others in terms of their fitness, but we have to strike that balance between peaking them as early as possible and not injuring them.

“We thought about going abroad and I always like to because, fan-wise, it gives the supporters an opportunity to come with us and get up-close and personal through things like open training sessions.

“Next year, we will be doing that, but given the fact that countries are currently going from amber to green – and back again – it felt risky for all of us, including fans, to have to come back and quarantine. Overall, we felt this was the best option, and I’m also delighted with the Hearts game because I was there as a player and it is a fantastic club.”