MIDDLESBROUGH have told Sunderland they are in no rush to complete a cut-price permanent deal for striker Danny Graham.
The Black Cats are willing to offload Graham for just £1m this summer to free up more wages at the Stadium of Light and his former club Watford are among those seriously interested.
Boro are also keen, although they are not willing to dive in and complete the move until they have assessed all available attacking options.
Graham’s wages on Wearside are likely to pose a problem at the Riverside Stadium, where chairman Steve Gibson has to operate with Financial Fair Play rules in mind.
The Gateshead-born frontman spent the final five months of last season on Teesside after a frustrating 12 months struggling to make an impact at Sunderland and Hull City in the Premier League.
He scored six goals in his 13 games for Boro and Sunderland hope to move him on on a full-time basis, accepting they will have to take a big hit on the £5m fee paid to Swansea in January last year.
Karanka would like him in his squad again next season but said: “Danny is a player we know and we like, but we don’t know what his situation is at Sunderland. We are aware of him, but we are also looking at other options.”
Graham would like to move back to Boro, where he spent the early years of his professional career, but Karanka has already shown he has other targets in mind.
Sunderland boss Gustavo Poyet and sporting director Lee Congerton are pressing ahead on the recruitment front with the squad is short in a number of areas.
Poyet is desperate to add to his attacking ranks and Watford’s Troy Deeney is among those under consideration. The Hornets’ interest in Graham has led to the possibility of a part-exchange deal.
If Sunderland decide to make Deeney a top target they face competition from other Premier League clubs. Everton have previously been linked, while the serious contenders at this stage are Burnley and Aston Villa. In the Championship there is interest from Norwich, Fulham and Wigan.
Former Sunderland goalkeeper Craig Gordon has agreed to sign a two-year pay-as-you-play deal with Celtic after being without a club for over a year.
The former Scotland No 1, has not played first team football since April 2012 but has impressed Celtic's new manager Ronny Deila and goalkeeper coach Stevie Woods.