ALEX NEIL is hoping Sunderland will have a new addition in place by the time the Championship season begins – and has hinted they could go straight into the squad for Sunday’s opening game against Coventry City.

The Black Cats are close to securing a season-long loan deal for Ellis Simms, with the Everton striker having expressed a desire to move to the Stadium of Light rather than return to Blackpool or Hearts, where he has previously spent time on loan.

Simms’ arrival would be a major boost, with Ross Stewart currently the only senior striker on the books and Jack Diamond having been pressed into action as an emergency centre-forward during the pre-season programme.

Neil would not discuss Simms directly during his press conference to preview the Coventry game, but he admitted a signing was potentially close and suggested they could go straight into the matchday squad provided they get the opportunity to work on the training pitch in the next 48 hours.

“Will there be someone in before Saturday? There’s every chance,” said Neil, who confirmed his squad is injury-free ahead of the weekend. “Might they be involved at the weekend? It would depend on how they looked.

“It depends how many days we get on the grass with them. For instance, if we managed to get someone training a couple of days prior to the game, then potentially we might put them in (to the squad). It would depend on the position they play well, in terms of how much cover we’ve got in that area.

“It depends on how we’re going to go about the game too, so there’s a whole host of things that go into that, but I certainly wouldn’t rule it out.”