Sky Sports understands Sunderland are in talks with Manchester City winger Adam Johnson.
Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini revealed last week he was willing to let Johnson move on in search of regular first-team football.
Johnson only signed a new five-year contract at the Etihad Stadium in January but has grown frustrated after failing to hold down a regular place in City's star-studded side.
A number of clubs have been linked with a move for Johnson following Mancini's confirmation that he would allow the player to move on.
Sunderland have held a long-term interest in the former Middlesbrough with Martin O'Neill keen to add to his squad before the close of the transfer window.
The Black Cats have now been given the green light to hold talks with the England international as they look to lure Johnson to the Stadium of Light.
Manchester City have been strongly linked with a move for Swansea's Scott Sinclair as a replacement for Johnson.
Mancini told a press conference on Friday morning: "Adam Johnson is a City player at the moment.
"We can't sell a player if we don't buy other players. If so we don't have the right number for this year."