STEVE BRUCE is expected to press through a bid for free agent Lucas Neill after the Sunderland boss failed with a last-minute move for Tottenham Hotspur rightback Alan Hutton.
After signing seven players since taking charge at the Stadium of Light, Bruce wont let the closure of the transfer window halt his overhaul of the squad that last season avoided relegation by the skin of its teeth.
The proposed loan deal for Hutton, that would have seen Anton Ferdinand go in the opposite direction, collapsed after the Scotland international proved unwilling to swap London for the North-East.
A move for Australia international Neill, whos been out of contract since failing to agree a new contract with West Ham in June, is now under consideration.
The signing of out of contract players is not limited by the strictures of the transfer window system and Bruce remains keen to recruit Neill if personal terms can be agreed.
Teemu Tainios seasonlong loan move to Birmingham City was concluded only a couple of minutes before yesterdays 5pm deadline but Daryl Murphys switch to Ipswich Town was not completed in time.
But Bruce wont stop there and hell continue to cut costs by sending Roy ODonovan, David Healy and Murphy out on loan.
Nearly 20 players have left this summer as Bruces avuncular public image has belied his single-minded determination to offload those he regarded as ill-equipped for the Premier League challenge.
The legacy of Roy Keanes tenure in charge at Sunderland club left the Black Cats with a host of players earning the kind of handsome pay packets that few teams were willing to match.
Nevertheless, the sale of Danny Collins to Stoke and Grant Leadbitter and Carlos Edwards to Ipswich yielded around £9m in transfer fees and wiped millions of pounds from the clubs wage bill.
The likes of Nyron Nosworthy and Phil Bardsley
, who avoided Bruces cull, will have four months to prove their worth or face being shipped out when the transfer window re-opens on January 1.
Bruce failed with a one year loan move for Egypt winger Ahmed Al-Muhammadi after his club ENPPI rejected the approach. Bruce was unwilling to sign the 21- year-old on a permanent deal after experiencing problems with fellow Egyptian Amr Zaki at Wigan last season.
ENPPI can confirm that the offer from Sunderland was not at a satisfactory level and not up to scratch, said a statement from the Egyptian outfit.
To take the player on loan for the rest of the season is completely unacceptable, considering the name and the quality of the player. Al- Muhammadi is a player of a high calibre who doesnt need to prove his worth yet again.
In the meantime, new signing Michael Turner confirmed that the prospect of working with Bruce was key to agreeing a £6.5m move to Wearside.
A lot of things attracted me to Sunderland, the facilities, the stadium, the fan base. But a big factor was the manager, he noted. Steve Bruce is a proven manager, played in my position as a player and hopefully he can add to my game.
He has a real pedigree and did a great job at Wigan. As soon as I knew of their interest there was only one place I wanted to go. With the deadline coming up it all happened quite quickly after I found out Sunderland were interested.
I have played at the Stadium of Light two or three times and it is an unbelievable place, one of my favourites.
The signings which have already been made show Sunderland want to move in the right direction and I want to be part of that.
Bruce commented: Michael is one of the countrys premier central defenders.
His aerial ability provides us with another dimension at set-pieces."