Sunderland boss Steve Bruce was closing in on one of his summer transfer targets after midfielder Sebastian Larsson arrived on Wearside.
The out-of-contract Birmingham winger travelled to the north-east for talks and a medical amid speculation that former Blues boss Alex McLeish was ready to hijack the Black Cats' pursuit and take the Swede to Aston Villa.
Bruce identified Larsson and Coventry goalkeeper Keiren Westwood as two of three Bosman signings at the end of last season, and Sunderland are understood to be close to capturing both after their existing deals expire on June 30.
Meanwhile, sources on Wearside have played down reports that the club has tabled a bid for Ipswich's highly-rated striker Connor Wickham.
The Black Cats do have an interest in the player, who has also been linked with Liverpool, but they insist they have not yet made a formal offer.
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