STEVE BRUCE last night gave the go-ahead for Roy Keane to talk to Grant Leadbitter and Carlos Edwards after Ipswich agreed a fee for the Sunderland pair.
The Black Cats duo travelled to Suffolk last night to discuss terms and talk over the move with Keane, who has already failed this summer with a double raid for Daryl Murphy and Dean Whitehead.
Neither Murphy nor Whitehead were keen on teaming up again with their former boss in the Championship, and Keane hopes to be more successful this time around.
With Egyptian winger Ahmed Al Muhammadi set to arrive on Wearside in the coming days, Bruce is willing to listen to offers for Edwards.
However, the possibility of home-grown Leadbitter moving on is more of a surprise, especially since its just 12 days since Bruce claimed: I tried to get him in January when I was at Wigan. He wont be going anywhere. He is not for sale.
But Leadbiters representative from the PFA admitted last night his client was on his way to Portman Road for talks.
A fee has been agreed between Ipswich and Sunderland for Grant and we have been given permission to open talks with Ipswich, said Matthew Buck. We are heading down for talks now and we will see what happens.
Leadbitter, who has made more than 100 appearances for the club, has fallen down the pecking order at the Stadium of Light following the arrivals of Lee Cattermole and Lorik Cana.
Keane is also thought to retain an interest in Nyron Nosworthy and Murphy, although neither are part of the arrangement for Leadbitter and Edwards.
Sunderland are continuing attempts to reduce the size of their squad before Tuesdays transfer deadline, with Hull considering taking Murphy on loan with Paul McShane.
At this stage Bruce appears to be busier on outgoings than incomings, having almost given up on landing Manchester City defender Richard Dunne.
Bruce is still hoping to add one more defender before the transfer window closes and he has been regularly updated on Dunnes situation.
Dunne has been viewed by Bruce as the ideal candidate to slot straight in and take on the captains role this season, but City have been reluctant to do business.
However, having finally persuaded Everton to part with Joleon Lescott for £22m and after adding Brazilian defender Sylvinho to his squad, manager Mark Hughes could have a decision to make before Tuesdays 5pm deadline.
Aston Villa, likely to strike a deal ahead of Sunderland with Portsmouth for Sylvain Distin, are also believed to have made a £6m offer for Dunne.
He does not want to demand a move away from a club where he has become something of a hero, and he is approaching his testimonial year after moving from Everton almost nine years ago.
Hughes said: No doubt we will get calls in relation to Richard or other centre-backs because people will surmise that because Joleon is here others may leave.
That is not necessarily the case. It can be down to the individual or down to circumstances, but my remit is to make the club stronger. As we stand today Richard Dunne is the captain.
The situation is complicated, however, by Everton and Villas desire to land two centre- backs, with Dunne, Distin, David Wheater, Robert Huth and Steven Taylor all under consideration.
Bruce is not desperate for another defender, having added Paulo Da Silva and agreed deals for Ghanaian John Mensah and Egyptian Al Muhammadi.
Al Muhammadi is a rightwinger capable of playing fullback and he is expected to join on a season-long loan from Enppi. When he arrives he will do so with the nickname given to him in his country as the Egyptian Beckham.
Many European sides have watched the 21-year-old following his rapid rise to prominence in his homeland, where he has earned 27 caps.
Al Muhammadi has also played up front for Egypts Under-20s and has previously attracted interest from Hertha Berlin and Blackburn, who were reluctant to match the £1.5m price tag in January.
Sunderland, meanwhile, have finally had to pay Hearts the next instalment of the transfer fee for Craig Gordon.
Gordons appearance at Norwich in the Carling Cup on Monday night was his 50th for the Black Cats and that triggered a £333,000 contract clause.