WEST HAM are one of several Premier League sides contemplating a summer move for Sunderland defender Phil Bardsley.
Sunderland have been in talks over a new deal for Bardsley for several months, with his contract at the Stadium of Light expiring at the end of the season.
But as yet, nothing has been penned to extend Bardsley’s six-year stay on Wearside and with Sunderland now looking destined for the Championship, it looks increasingly unlikely that any of their eight out-of-contract players will be still at the club next season.
SportMail understands that Bardsley has no shortage of admirers prepared to sign him on a free transfer and allow him to remain in the Premier League, with West Ham thought to be one of the clubs interested.
If Fulham pull off a miraculous escape from the relegation dogfight, the Cottagers could also resurrect their interest in the 28-year-old after seeing a summer move fall through - when Bardsley was out of favour under Paolo Di Canio - and then having several bids rejected in the January transfer window.
Bardsley, who became Sunderland’s record Premier League appearance maker earlier this month, is happy in the North East and after being brought back into the fold by Gus Poyet in the Autumn, he indicated that he was eager to sign a new deal.
He wouldn’t necessarily be desperate to leave the club, even if they are playing Championship football next season.
But there will be longer offers on the table from elsewhere, while Bardsley would have to take a huge pay cut on his lucrative current contract, if Poyet attempts to keep him at the club.
All of Sunderland’s players have 40 per cent wage cuts built into their deals and while Bardsley would be signing a fresh contract, he would facing having his salary halved.
But the Black Cats will inevitably have to cut their cloth if they are lose the cash-cow of Premier League football, albeit the club would benefit from around £20million in parachute payments next season.
And letting out-of-contract players Bardsley, Jack Colback, Craig Gardner, Carlos Cuellar, Andrea Dossena, Keiren Westwood, Oscar Ustari and Seb Larsson leave the club would immediately lighten the burden on the club’s wage bill.