SUNDERLAND have been linked with interest in Glasgow Rangers’ outstanding young goalkeeping prospect Robby McCrorie.
The 14-year-old is also believed to have attracted the attention of Manchester City and Manchester United.
All three Premier League clubs are aware that the fallen Scottish Premier League giants – relegated to Division Three over the summer because of financial problems – will struggle to hold on their emerging prospects in the face of cash-rich suitors.
And they are running the rule over the Scotland Under-16s goalkeeper, who has already trained with Rangers’ first team, and is predicted to have a big future ahead of him.
Rangers would want to keep him, but might find it impossible to turn down generous offers from rich southern neighbours.
Sunderland are well-served in the goalkeeping department with Belgian international Simon Mignolet in outstanding form, and Republic of Ireland No1 Keiren Westwood in reserve.
Beyond that, the Black Cats have highly-rated England Under-19s stopper Jordan Pickford on their books.
Pickford has been a regular in Kevin Ball’s Barclays Premier Under 21 Development squad this season.
Last season, they had even more of an embarrassment of riches with former British record signing goalkeeper, £9m Craig Gordon on their books.
But while O’Neill is happy with his options in the short term, the club is always planning for the future.
And if McCrorrie is rated a good enough prospect, it would be sound business to try recruiting him now, before he makes more of a reputation for himself and attracts more interest, and a bigger potential transfer fee.
Meanwhile, John Egan’s loan spell at Bradford City was brought to a cruel and premature end last night when he suffered a suspected broken leg.
The 20-year-old centre-half was stretchered off in the 18th minute of Bradford’s game against Plymouth Argyle at Valley Parade with a suspected broken fibula.
The incident happened in the 12th minute when he appeared to fall awkwardly after making a headed clearance.
The game was held up for more than five minutes while the Republic of Ireland Under 21 international, clearly in great pain, was treated on the pitch before being stretchered off.
Regardless of the degree of injury, it certainly spells the end of a two-month loan spell which the youngster had only just embarked upon.
He had featured in the League Two side’s three previous games, playing every minute against Chesterfield, Aldershot and Exeter with the Bantams conceding only one goal in those matches.
Last night, though, he suffered heart-break with what is likely to be a season-ending injury.