FULHAM and Sheffield Wednesday are leading the chase for Sunderland discard Phil Bardsley.
Those two clubs have emerged as the ones making the early running for a player who has no future at the club under head coach Paolo Di Canio.
But the Gazette understands that others are also monitoring the situation of a player who is set to leave Sunderland sooner rather than later.
Bardsley was always likely to leave the Stadium of Light this summer in the wake of embarrassing pictures of him on a late night out at a casino just before the end of last season, coupled with stinging public criticism from Di Canio in the days that followed.
But the final straw is the decision to leave the 28-year-old defender at home while the rest of the squad flew out to their high-intensity training camp in Italy.
Speaking at a charity sports event yesterday, he said: “I think it’s quite clear to everyone that I’m not part of the plans at the club.
“So I’m just waiting and, you know, hopefully something will pop up in the near future.
“There has been interest from other clubs so, as I say, just waiting, and hopefully something is just around the corner.”
Wednesday boss Jones is desperate to get Bardsley on board, and can promise the full-back he will be central to his plans and allow the player to move closer to his Manchester base.
But Fulham will offer him the chance to stay in the Premier League and follow the route taken by former Sunderland team-mate Kieran Richardson, who left the Stadium of Light for Craven Cottage last summer.