Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill faces race against time to seal deal for Danny Graham

Graham has reportedly turned down a £5million move to Middlesbrough in the last 24 hours. Photo: PA

Sunderland were today facing a race against the clock to sign Swansea striker Danny Graham.

Despite his hopes of striking a deal much earlier in the January window, Black Cats boss Martin O'Neill will head into the final 12 hours with everything crossed that a deal can be completed.

There was still no agreement between the two clubs this morning for the 27-year-old, who is keen to return to regular first-team football after finding himself cast in the role of impact substitute at the Liberty Stadium in recent weeks.

Sunderland made their bid, understood to be in the region of £5million, some time ago and, with Norwich having also made an offer, are still awaiting a definitive answer.

The waters were muddied earlier today when it emerged that Graham's former club Middlesbrough had also expressed an interest, although the player's camp responded swiftly to rule out a return to the Riverside Stadium.

O'Neill's hopes of landing the striker have been complicated by Swansea's refusal to do business until they have a replacement on board, with Stoke's Kenwyne Jones among their targets.

They are yet to do that and with time running down fast, it remains to be seen whether or not they will stick to that plan.

Graham played the final 16 minutes of his current club's 0-0 Barclays Premier League draw with his prospective employers at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday evening, and his reception was mixed to say the least.

The Gateshead-born frontman has made no secret of his boyhood affection for arch-rivals Newcastle - a move to St James' Park was never on the cards simply because he would have little sell-on value at the end of any lengthy contract - and comments made in a fanzine interview were less than complimentary toward the Black Cats.

However, the Graham camp remained confident as they left the stadium following a game in which he might have snatched victory deep into injury time that the move would still happen.

O'Neill is desperate to boost his striking options to provide support for leading scorer Steven Fletcher, having allowed Fraizer Campbell and Louis Saha to leave the club and Ji Dong-won join German outfit Augsburg on loan.