AFTER making Lee Cattermole his fifth signing of the summer last night, Sunderland manager Steve Bruce immediately turned his attentions to strengthening his defence.
Chairman Niall Quinn has been in talks to secure defensive targets in the last 48 hours, having already brokered an initial £6m deal for Cattermole.
Portsmouths Sylvain Distin looks the most likely to arrive before Saturdays Premier League opener at Bolton, although there is also interest in the player from Liverpool, Manchester City and Aston Villa.
Bruce is also working on other options, with Ghanaian John Mensah, Citys Richard Dunne and the out-of-contract Lucas Neill all on his wishlist.
And while the Sunderland boss could make further additions before the August 31 deadline, he is determined to land at least one, and preferably two defenders before the opening day of the season.
He had hoped to play Paulo Da Silva this weekend, but paperwork problems have prevented the Paraguayan defender from receiving his visa.
Cattermole was also attracting interest from Liverpool, Everton and Tottenham, and has finally been allowed to move on after Wigan chairman Dave Whelan dropped his £10m demands.
The 21-year-old left Middlesbrough last summer for £3.5m, and privately conceded that he would relish the chance to team up with Bruce again after developing a good understanding during their time together at Wigan.
The combative midfielder is in contention to become the clubs new captain, something Bruce was quick to make him after signing him for the Latics.
Bruce said: Lee has everything that I like in a player, so Im delighted to have brought him to Sunderland. He is a terrific footballer. He is young, strong and has a real passion for the game that Im sure the our supporters will love.
Cattermole follows Da Silva, Darren Bent, Fraizer Campbell and Lorik Cana to Wearside and takes Bruces spending towards £25m with more signings imminent.
Ive been delighted with all the signings I have made so far, said Bruce, who has had numerous offers turned down for Cattermole. Lee is a great addition and will strengthen us through the spine of the team while creating real competition midfield.
Cattermole was a member of the successful Middlesbrough Academy, where he had been expected to become a mainstay of the team until Gareth Southgate opted to sell him last summer.
Despite playing just 33 times for Wigan, the England Under-21 internationals stock quickly rose and the Lancashire club have fielded numerous calls about his availability.
His form for Wigan ensured he became a regular in the Under-21s under Stuart Pearce, where he has often played an attacking role even though he is regarded mainly as a more defensively minded player.
Bruces successor Roberto Martinez had previously stated he was not willing to listen to offers for the player.
However, Stockton-born Cattermoles hopes of a return to the region were realised.
The fee is a good one, said Martinez, amid claims from Wigan the deal was worth £8m.
It is far more than the club paid for him last year and the third highest in Wigan history. The initial offer from Sunderland was unacceptable as we said at the time, but they have now matched our valuation.
The speculation about Lee has refused to go away over the last few weeks and this has been very unsettling for him and for our players.
It became clear over the past few days that Lee wanted to leave and it is very disruptive to the group when a player is clearly unhappy.
Anthony Stokes is close to securing a permanent switch to Scottish Premier League side Hibernian, while Ipswich Town are believed to have resurrected a £1.5m deal to take Daryl Murphy to Portman Road.