Sunderland target Forest Green Rovers captain Carl Winchester in January window
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Sources at the Forest Green Rovers end have told the Echo they understand a deal is close to being finalised.
The 27-year-old has one full cap for Northern Ireland, which came against Wales in May 2011.
Winchester has six months left on his contract, with Gloucestershire Live first revealing Sunderland’s interest.
Sunderland’s business, like their rivals, will be limited by the salary cap and squad number restrictions on clubs but they will look to strengthen.
When asked about his aims for the window prior to the goalless draw with Northampton Town on Saturday, Johnson said: "To try and get better, that’s something we’re trying to do.
"Obviously we’re in a position with the ownership, as you will have seen in public, at the moment where it’s not total clarity what we can and can’t do.
"I think it’s about presenting the right option and we’re on it, I can assure everybody of that.
"We’ve got very healthy lists and information to go with those lists, and I’m very conscious when bringing any player in that the group sits well with it.
"Sometimes it’ll be an unfashionable signing, sometimes it’ll be a fashionable signing – and I guess people just have to trust over a period of time that we make the right decision for the long-term future of the club in terms of getting better instantly and over a period of time.”