Sunderland boss Steve Bruce was last night closing in on more transfer success as the club worked to thrash out the details of a double swoop for Manchester United duo Wes Brown and John O'Shea.
England international Brown was due in the north east and could be closely followed by O'Shea with the Black Cats edging towards deals to secure their seventh and eighth summer transfer targets.
The pair and midfielder Darron Gibson were the subject of a joint bid totalling more than £12million which was accepted by the Red Devils last month.
Significant progress has been made with both Brown and O'Shea in recent days, but the Republic of Ireland defender's situation has been complicated by the fact that his wife has given birth in the meantime.
Brown, 31, signed a first professional contract at Old Trafford within four months of joining the club as a trainee in 1996, and made his senior debut as a substitute against Leeds in May 1998.
Injuries have played a significant part in his career, but he formed a formidable central defensive partnership with Rio Ferdinand before Nemanja Vidic's arrival limited his opportunities.
Nevertheless, his time at United has been littered with winners' medals, including two in the Champions League.
However, Sir Alex Ferguson's decision to accept Sunderland's bid suggested the time might be right to move on, and although he has also been linked with Everton and Bolton, the Black Cats have put themselves in pole position to push through a deal.
They are confident too of persuading O'Shea that his future lies at the Stadium of Light.
The 30-year-old utility man has made almost 300 starts for United and has five Barclays Premier League titles to his name, while he has become a stalwart of Giovanni Trapattoni's Ireland defence.
But while Brown and O'Shea may be close to joining, question marks remain over Gibson, who has also attracted interest from derby rivals Newcastle, with no agreement yet in place.