Skysports.com understands Sunderland are amongst a number of Premier League clubs tracking Middlesbrough starlet Joe Bennett.
Bennett was handed his league debut under Gareth Southgate and made further progress with Gordon Strachan at the helm.
But it is under Tony Mowbray's tutelage that Bennett has flourished this season and has been one of the club's shining lights in an otherwise disappointing campaign.
The 20-year-old has been called into the England Under-21 squad in recent months, and is emerging as yet another exciting product of Boro's youth system.
Bennett, an attacking full-back, can play anywhere down the left and he was rewarded for his progress by signing a new four-and-half-year deal in January.
However, Boro's finances dictate that they would find it hard to reject a good offer for any player, something Mowbray admitted last week.
Sunderland boss Steve Bruce personally took in Boro's weekend win over Watford with Scott MacDonald and Danny Graham his reported targets.
But skysports.com understands that it was Bennett he was there to check on and was impressed with what he saw.
Now it is believed Sunderland are weighing up whether to make a bid for Bennett and tempt their North East rivals into a sale.
Manchester City and Liverpool are also aware of Bennett's progress, and could be willing to make a move if Sunderland lodged an offer.