Steven Fletcher in talks with Sunderland as clubs agree deal

SUNDERLAND boss Martin O’Neill was today closing in on his number one summer target as Steven Fletcher headed for Wearside.

• Steven Fletcher to discuss personal terms and undergo medical

• Out-of-favour Scotland international high on Martin O’Neill’s wishlist

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The 25-year-old Wolves striker was due to open talks over his protracted switch to the Black Cats after the two clubs finally agreed a deal.

It is understood Fletcher was due in the north-east to discuss personal terms and to undergo a medical with a view to completing his move ahead of Saturday’s Barclays Premier League fixture against promoted Reading at the Stadium of Light.

Given Sunderland’s pursuit of the Scotland international, who earlier this month handed in a transfer request in an effort to hasten his exit from Molineux, O’Neill will hope for swift progress.

However, having finally negotiated the tortuous process of reaching agreement with Wolves, the Black Cats boss will take nothing for granted.

The fee is understood to be in the region of £12million, despite suggestions from the Midlands that it is considerably higher, although Sunderland have taken a firm stance in their valuation of a player for whom several previous bids had been rejected.

Fletcher cost Wolves £7million just two years ago, but an illustration of O’Neill’s belief that he could be central to his club’s immediate and long-term future.

Wolves have refused to conduct a fire-sale in the wake of relegation and chief executive Jez Moxey has insisted for much of the last few weeks that the club’s top players were simply not for sale.

Despite being relegated from the Premier League twice in three years, first with Burnley and then with the Black Country club, Fletcher has managed to score 30 top-flight goals, a creditable return in struggling sides.