AUSTRIAN international Christian Fuchs has been mooted as a possible solution to Sunderland’s left-back headache.
Sunderland returned to pre-season training at the start of this week without a recognised first-team left-back on the club’s books after the departure of on-loan Marcos Alonso and out-of-contract Andrea Dossena at the end of last season.
The Wearsiders have so far been frustrated in their attempts to sign Alonso on a permanent basis, with the Spaniard currently back with parent club Fiorentina at their pre-season training camp in northern Italy.
But reports in Germany have linked Sunderland, along with French side Bordeaux and Italian club Palermo, with an interest in Schalke defender Fuchs.
The 28-year-old is currently training on his own as he recovers from a knee injury, with sources in Germany indicating that Schalke will not be drawn on the speculation over the 57-time capped Austrian international.
But there has been talk throughout the summer that Schalke are willing to let the high-earning Fuchs depart to cut costs and promote their homegrown talent.
Alonso remains Sunderland’s first-choice solution at left-back though, after impressing during his 20 appearances for the Black Cats following his January arrival.
As the Echo reported last month, Fiorentina boss Vincenzo Montella wants to gauge Alonso’s progress first-hand during pre-season to see how he has developed following his Sunderland loan spell and whether he can provide effective competition for Italy international Manuel Pasqual.
But it has been a test of patience for the Black Cats so far, with hopes of a swap deal involving Sunderland defender and ex-Fiorentina loanee Modibo Diakite failing to materialise.
Alonso’s father and agent, Marcos Alonso senior, said last week: “Now it’s up to Fiorentina to make a decision.
“Right now, we only know that he has been asked to begin preparing for pre-season and he still has two years of his contract (with Fiorentina).”