David Moyes will maintain his hunt for midfield quality – as the volume rises on talk of Sunderland making a bid for Phil Jagielka.
The former Everton manager has been linked with a return to Goodison Park to sign the Toffees skipper.
There has been dialogue. I wouldn’t expect anything to happen soon because it is not at those levelsALEX NEIL
However, midfield is the area Moyes will prioritise in the remaining 12 days of the transfer window.
The Black Cats have already been reported to have lodged a £10million offer for Norwich City star Robbie Brady.
Moyes this week refused to talk about interest in the 24-year-old though, pertinently, he did not deny it.
The Scot did explain that their January transfer interest was plural rather than singular.
Canaries manager Alex Neil revealed that negotiations are “ongoing” over the Republic of Ireland international he is resigned to losing this window.
Brady has been the subject of a number of bids, with Burnley, Crystal Palace and champions Leicester all known admirers.
The former Hull City star will bring a bit of vision and energy to a department decimated by injury and unavailability.
And they are features Moyes knows are desperately required if his team are to reach top-flight safety.
With Sunderland having a week off after tomorrow’s Premier League trip to West Brom, the Wearsiders do not have to be in a desperate hurry.
However, with Premier League title hopefuls Tottenham coming to the Stadium of Light a week on Tuesday, Moyes would love him in good time.
But Neil said: “There have been negotiations that are on-going and contact from other clubs.
“I am not going to be specific about who that is or how much we are talking about. There has been dialogue. I wouldn’t expect anything to happen soon because it is not at those levels.
“It will be our timescale and on our terms.”
If Brady is a no-go, Sunderland could switch their attention to Montpellier playmaker Ryad Boudebouz.
The Algerian international would cost around £9million, but it would be Brady OR Boudebouz, not both.
It has been the link with Jagielka which has been the most intriguing transfer rumour.
The England centre-half, a bargain £4million signing by Moyes for Everton in 2007, is out of favour at Goodison Park.
It is believed the 34-year-old wants his place back while he is due at testimonial with the Blues next season.
But manager Ronald Koeman did not shut the door on any would be suitors.
“I don’t know,” said the Dutchman.
“It’s all about if there is interest in Jags. The last few weeks he didn’t start, but he’s captain of the team.
“In general, if players are not happy we speak to them and find a solution.
“What is best for the club and what is best for the player.”
Moyes would not turn down Jagielka, but the Sunderland boss has established a good defensive alliance between Papy Djilobodji and Lamine Kone, though the latter is away on Africa Cup of Nations duty.
Veteran John O’Shea and on-loan Jason Denayer have both filled in at centre-back too, which suggests a move for Jagielka is not at the top of the list.