SUNDERLAND have held talks with Alan Browne and Oliver Norwood as they look to add some Championship experience to their midfield ranks.

While Kristjaan Speakman is adamant there will be no major shift in the Black Cats’ policy of prioritising  the purchase of young, relatively unproven players who can be developed within the first-team ranks, there is an acceptance that the addition of some midfield experience would be beneficial.

Sunderland were short of central-midfield options for most of last season, and lost their most experienced campaigner in the position when Corry Evans left as his contract expired earlier this summer.

Browne has held talks with senior members of the Sunderland hierarchy and is understood to have visited Wearside following his release from Preston at the end of last season.

The 29-year-old, who tends to play in an attacking central-midfield role, has made more than 350 Championship appearances, having joined Preston from Cork City in 2014.

In his decade at Deepdale, he became a firm fans’ favourite and also won 35 senior international caps with the Republic of Ireland, scoring five goals.

He opted to leave Preston in search of a new challenge, and is exactly the kind of proven second-tier performer that Regis Le Bris was talking about pursuing when he outlined his transfer ambitions during his introductory press conference at the Academy of Light last week.

“We are thinking about one or two more experienced players, who know the Championship very well, for example, and have high standards when it comes to training,” said Le Bris. “They can help dictate the way of playing and lead the team during the game.”


Norwood would also fit that bill, and he has also held preliminary talks with Sunderland officials following his release from Sheffield United last month.

Like Browne, Norwood boasts extensive Championship experience, having spent six successful seasons with the Blades in both the second tier and the top-flight.

The 33-year-old began his career in the youth ranks at Manchester United, and also spent time with Huddersfield, Reading, Brighton and Fulham prior to moving to Bramall Lane in the summer of 2018.

Both Browne and Norwood are speaking to other clubs as well as Sunderland, but a move to the Stadium of Light is likely to hold considerable appeal for both players as they look to continue playing at the highest level possible.

Norwood has, however, also been linked with a possible move to the United States, with a number of MLS sides understood to have had contact with his representatives.

Sunderland’s players have been back in pre-season training for almost a week now, with the club set to play their first two friendlies on Saturday.

Le Bris will split his squad between a lunchtime kick-off at South Shields and a game later in the day against Gateshead. Sunderland’s first-team group will then head to a training camp in Spain, where they will play friendlies against Nottingham Forest and CD Eldense in the second half of next week.