LEEDS UNITED are keeping tabs on Matt Kilgallon, with the Sunderland defender’s future still uncertain despite his second coming on Wearside.
Neil Warnock was at the Stadium of Light towards the end of last season, with Kilgallon thought to be the subject of the Leeds boss’ scouting mission.
The 28-year-old is about to enter the final year of his contract at Sunderland and Martin O’Neill could be open to offers for the centre-half, despite his re-emergence as a first-team player from the brink of the exit door.
Sunderland have three centre-halves on the books who have just 12 months left on their contracts and one is likely to leave the club this summer.
Kilgallon, Titus Bramble and Michael Turner are all vulnerable – with the possibility of them leaving on Bosman free transfers this time next year – and O’Neill is keen to make room in his squad for a new centre-half.
Out-of-contract Aston Villa defender Carlos Cuellar is at the top of Sunderland’s shopping list, with the Black Cats understood to be firmly interested in the Spaniard, who O’Neill took to Villa Park for almost £8million in the summer of 2008.
With former Manchester United duo John O’Shea and Wes Brown both part of O’Neill’s plans, the Sunderland boss is expected to sacrifice one of his remaining trio of central defenders.
Turner played the final 20 games of last season and is in the strongest position of the three, but Bramble and Kilgallon both face a precarious summer.
Kilgallon’s resurgence as a Premier League player has not gone unnoticed though and Warnock will consider a return to Elland Road for the York-born defender in his attempts to re-shape the squad he inherited from Simon Grayson last February.
Warnock knows Kilgallon well having spent almost £2m to take him from boyhood club Leeds to Sheffield United in January, 2007, before the then Blades boss left Bramall Lane four months later.
Certainly, Kilgallon’s form in his 11 outings for Sunderland this season will make him an appetising prospect for other clubs, particularly in the Championship.
After Kilgallon had been banished to the fringes by the man who signed him, Steve Bruce, he returned from obscurity under Martin O’Neill to play a solid role in the second half of the season.
He played in all-but-one of the final eight games of the campaign, including a hugely impressive contribution in Sunderland’s 3-3 draw at eventual Premier League champions Manchester City.