Manchester City winger Adam Johnson could make a shock return to the North East with his hometown Sunderland.
The 24-year-old left Middlesbrough in a £7m deal in February 2010 but, after a good start to his City career, he has found it difficult to break into Roberto Mancini's starting XI.
Johnson has been a substitute for the last three league games and Mancini recently complained that the player has not been fulfilling his potential on the field.
The Italian said: "I'm not arguing with Adam because also Adam has a good talent, but also it's important he puts this on the pitch, this talent. Sometime he doesn't do this."
Black Cats boss Martin O'Neill is now monitoring the situation and will consider moving for the England international in the summer, according to the Daily Star.
Johnson has made 70 Premier League appearances for City, 31 of which have been as a substitute.