Sunderland transfer news: Brighton boss discusses Jan Paul van Hecke's future

Graham Potter has hinted that Brighton & Hove Albion could sanction a loan move for Jan Paul Van Hecke this window.

Van Hecke had a hugely successful loan at Blackburn Rovers last season and was voted the club's player of the season.

Sunderland have a strong interest in the 22-year-old, with their need for a defensive addition only underlined by Dan Ballard suffering a serious foot injury.

And while sources were quick to stress no deal was done when news broke from the North West on Saturday evening that Van Hecke would be joining Sunderland rather than returning to Ewood Park, the Black Cats are leading the race should the defender go back out on loan.

Jan Paul Van Hecke in action for Blackburn Rovers last season

His situation is complicated by the fact that he has only one year left on his current deal, and that would likely have to be extended before his departure would be sanctioned.

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Sunderland are hopeful of strengthening their squad this week, with Costa Rican winger Jewison Bennette having travelled to the UK to complete his switch from Club Sport Herediano.

Brighton boss Potter was asked ahead of his side's Carabao Cup trip to Forest Green whether the decision with Van Hecke and some other fringe players was about balancing their need for game time and the potential benefit of staying within the senior group.

Van Hecke is rated highly at Brighton and has been included in Premier League squads, but at this stage is not first choice in a team that has started the Premier League campaign in outstanding form.

"That is essentially the balancing act, yes," Potter said.

"Ultimately that is the decision we have to make. It is influenced a little bit by the player and the player's career.

"At the same time we need to go, 'Okay, what are the chances of him playing regularly with us and taking those steps that we need him to take?'

"If he has got a really good option to go and play that is also beneficial for him and to us in the medium-long term, so that is the decision."

Neil has said it is 'inevitable' that the club will be active on deadline day, but that he also hopes to strike in one or two areas before then.