Sunderland look set to battle it out with a host of rival Championship sides in the race to sign Republic of Ireland defender Andy O'Brien, who is looking to leave Portsmouth on loan.
The former Newcastle United centre-half was tipped to leave Fratton Park for Derby County ahead of the transfer window closing last Thursday, but a move did not materialise.
As a result a temporary switch is on the cards when the loan market gets up and running at the end of this week.
However new Sunderland boss Roy Keane is believed to be ready to challenge the Rams for his signature and add to the growing band of Irishmen already at the Stadium of Light.
Norwich City and Birmingham City are also thought to be keen on taking O'Brien on loan, following his slide out of Pompey boss Harry Redknapp's first-team plans due to Sol Campbell's summer arrival on the South Coast.