Sunderland will not be signing Jermain Defoe this month, with Black Cats boss Lee Johnson understood to have reservations about recruiting the 39-year-old.

Defoe left Rangers earlier in the month and was quickly linked with a return to Sunderland.

The former England striker had proved a hit on Wearside in the past and many fans wanted to see him back at the club as they vie for promotion from League One.

But a report from The Northern Echo has revealed that Sunderland boss Johnson is not keen on signing Defoe – he is said to be ‘reluctant’ to the signing, with fears over his squad role and match fitness a key factor.

The report goes on to reveal that the Sunderland board had given Johnson the green light to sign Defoe and that the player was ready to rejoin the club, but for Johnson not giving it the go-ahead.

Sunderland currently sit in 3rd place of the League One table – one point behind leaders Rotherham United, with 2nd place Wigan Athletic having four games in hand on either side.

The Black Cats remain the league’s highest scorers this season with 52 goals in 27 fixtures. But Johnson has relied heavily on the goals of Ross Stewart who has 18 in the league this season – more than any other League One player.

Nathan Broadhead is Sunderland’s next highest scorer in League One with five. Adding another striker then seems paramount for Sunderland this month and expect Johnson’s reluctance to sign Defoe to anger a few fans.

Despite his age, he was playing regular football for Rangers last season and remains one of the country’s most natural finishers of the 21st Century – he has no shortage of suitors, so expect to see him signing for a new club soon.

Up next for Sunderland is a home game v Portsmouth this weekend.