Sunderland are ready to recall keeper Jordan Pickford in the January transfer window, according to reports in the North West today.
Pickford is midway through a season-long loan spell at Preston North End, with the 21-year-old impressing for the Championship outfit.
But Sunderland have been keeping close tabs on Pickford during his time at Deepdale and Preston fear that the England Under-21 international's loan will be cut short in the January transfer window.
That would raise doubts over the future of Sunderland stopper Vito Mannone, who was linked with a move to Italian side Verona earlier this week.
Pickford's fellow loanee Liam Bridcutt will not be heading back to Wearside in the New Year though after joining Leeds United last month.
Bridcutt, who has made two appearances for Leeds, has been linked with moves to Cardiff and former club Brighton after only penning an initial six-week deal at Elland Road.
However, Leeds boss Steve Evans claimed today that there is an agreement with all parties for Bridcutt to remain at the club until the end of the season.
Meanwhile, Sunderland are stepping up their efforts for January recruits, with Lorient centre-half Lamine Kone on the radar.
Black Cats boss Sam Allardyce watched Lorient in action last month and Sunderland were among 11 Premier League sides represented for the Ligue 1 outfit's clash against Nice last week.
It is understood that Ivory Coast international Kone - who is keen to move to the Premier League - is the subject of Sunderland's interest.