Sunderland are set to run the rule over Hearts defender Jordan McGhee tonight – as they continue their search for a young central defender.
The Black Cats are casting the net north of the border, having made a move for Dundee United’s John Souttar earlier in the season.
They also have an interest in the Tangerines’ Ryan Gauld, the highly-rated winger, and had hoped to watch both in action for Scotland under-21 against Hungary at Tannadice tonight.
But instead they will look at McGhee, who has emerged from the financial problems at Hearts to establish his reputation as one of the leading lights of a promising crop of young Scottish players.
The 17-year-old can play at left-back as well as centre-back and has been linked with Juventus.
Hearts’ financial problems means that he might be available in the close season, when Poyet hopes to restructure a Sunderland side that will have several players out of contract and available.
McGhee is one of the players on Sunderland’s radar, along with Nottingham Forest centre-back Jamaal Lascelles, the England under-20 defender who has attracted interest from Liverpool and Arsenal.
Sunderland were sniffing around Hartlepool United’s Jack Baldwin before Peterborough decided to move for him in January and the hunt for young defensive talent is one of the priorities of the scouting department ahead of the a summer rebuild.
Poyet has plenty of decisions to make in the close season, but some calls will need to be made in the short-term.
The Journal understands that Poyet has made Charis Mavrias available on loan ahead of the March 28 deadline – and he is interesting a clutch of Championship clubs.
The Greece winger has not played for the Black Cats since the FA Cup fourth-round clash with Kidderminster, where he scored the winning goal, and there are doubts about his long-term future at the Stadium of Light.
Mavrias is one of several players that Poyet is prepared to let leave the Wearsiders, although he was waiting for the conclusion of their Capital One Cup run before allowing him to depart on loan.
As Sunderland begin tentative planning for the future, they have the immediate concern of a game against Hull City in the FA Cup – before another important Premier League game against Crystal Palace a week on Saturday.
The Black Cats have been bouyed by their performance in the Capital One Cup final, but after receiving plaudits for their performance there is now the very real necessity to earn points in the Premier League, where they are currently sitting in the bottom three.
They remain within three points of Crystal Palace and four of Norwich, although that gap could be extended in a weekend when three of their relegation rivals are playing.
West Bromwich Albion, who stand only a point about the drop zone, welcome Manchester United to Old Trafford in the early kick-off.
But Sunderland midfielder Jack Colback feels their weekend performance has set the scene for their survival bid.
“If we apply ourselves like we did in the final, then the wins will come naturally,” he said.
“That’s what we’ve got to look to do because we’re still in a bad position in the league. If we have the same hunger and passion, then we should win the games comfortably. We’ve got the FA Cup again on Sunday and then we’ve got to look to the league to win the games needed to keep us in the division.”