Stewart Donald has admitted that he made an enquiry about signing striker Ched Evans in the January transfer window.
The controversial forward, who is on loan at Fleetwood Town from Sheffield United, was linked with a move to the club as the Black Cats sought a new signing.
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Evans, who was imprisoned for rape in 2012 before the decision was quashed and he was found not guilty in a retrial in 2016, has scored 12 goals this season.
Donald revealed to Roker Rapport that he had a conversation with Jack Ross about signing him, but that the Sunderland boss said no.
However, Donald insists it was for 'footballing reasons' rather than because of a backlash from fans over the potential arrival of Evans.
He said: "I know (Sheffield United manager) Chris Wilder well and I phoned him directly and asked him 'who you got, who you looking to move out because we need a striker'.
"He gave me a couple of names of people out there and I mentioned him (Evans), and we said to Sheffield United that we may be be interested.
"Jack talked it through and again it was a footballing decision. We got down the avenue of having a conversation and then Jack said 'I think we want to go in a different direction, so no thank you'.
"So that's where we got to."