WEST Ham are keen to take George McCartney back to Upton Park after emerging as the main club interested in signing the out-of-favour defender.
Sunderland are desperate to offload the high-earning left-back and are willing to let the 30-year-old leave either on a permanent deal or on loan.
But so far the Hammers are the only club who have held talks with Sunderland over McCartney - one of four defenders the Black Cats are actively looking to sell.
McCartney, who spent much of last season on loan at Leeds, has been unable to rediscover the form from his first spell at the Stadium of Light since returning to Sunderland in a £6.5million deal from West Ham three years ago.
But new boss Sam Allardyce, a good friend of Sunderland boss Steve Bruce, is on the lookout for fresh recruits as he plots a return to the Premier League.
The Hammers are short of options at left-back after former England man Wayne Bridge returned to Manchester City following last season’s loan spell at Upton Park.
Congo international Herita Ilunga was at fault for Cardiff’s last-gasp winner in West Ham’s opening day defeat on Sunday and Allardyce feels McCartney would offer a more assured presence.
McCartney was held in high esteem from his two-year stint in the East End and West Ham are one of the few clubs in the Championship who would be able to pay the former Northern Ireland international’s wages in full.