STOKE City have readied a £5m bid for Sunderland’s Lee Cattermole and are quietly confident of getting their man, according to firm sources in the West Midlands.
Potters’ boss Mark Hughes is keen to pep up a faltering side which has taken only one point from the last 15, slipping to just four points above second-bottom Sunderland.
And although a new striker is Hughes’ top priority, Cattermole is the sort of player who could revitalise any squad with his enthusiasm for the game and his natural leadership ability.
Sunderland head coach Gus Poyet is an admirer of the 25 year-old midfielder and has spoken eloquently about the passion and the drive the Teessider brings to the team. He would be reluctant to let him go.
But the Black Cats are believed to want to reduce their wage bill and the former Sunderland skipper is one of the biggest earners at the club.
And with Poyet known to be keen to bring Brighton’s defensive midfielder Liam Bridcutt to the Stadium of Light in the current window, a ready-made replacement for many of Cattermole’s qualities could be waiting in the wings.
Cattermole is probably best known in football for the large number of cautions and red cards he has picked up in his career.
But there are other, more impressive sides to his game, not least being the fact that at a relatively tender age, the ex-England Under 21 man has already skippered three Premier League clubs – Middlesbrough, Wigan Athletic and Sunderland.
Stoke would hope Cattermole is ready to mature and are aware that the player, bought for £6m by ex-Sunderland boss Steve Bruce in the summer of 2009, would be playing his peak years at the Britannia Stadium if talk of a three-year contract comes off.
The Echo understands that no official bid has yet been received by Sunderland from the Potters for a player who has two-and-a-half years left on his current contract.
And for the moment, Cattermole’s mind will be concentrated solely on getting Sunderland through to their first cup final since 1992 tonight, when the Black Cats take on Manchester United in the conclusion of their Capital One Cup semi-final showdown.
But with Stoke’s interest looking genuine, the news is bound to add extra spice, one way or another, to the Potters’ visit to the Stadium of Light next Wednesday.