MARTIN O'Neill will attempt to sign Danny Rose on a permanent basis next month, and is confident the England Under-21 international wants to remain at the Stadium of Light.
Rose moved to Sunderland on a season-long loan from Tottenham in the summer and has consistently been the club's best performer in the opening four months of the season.
He caught the eye again in Saturday's 3-1 defeat to Chelsea, and with the transfer window due to reopen at the turn of the year, O'Neill is ready to make a formal approach to Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas in an attempt to turn the 22-year-old's temporary switch into a permanent transfer.
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“There is that possibility,” said the Sunderland boss, who watched his side slip into the bottom three for the first time this season as they slumped to their third Premier League home defeat of the campaign. “He wants to remain at the football club and that is encouraging.
“If he went back to Tottenham, particularly with (Benoit) Assou-Ekotto getting fit again, the chances are he wouldn't play that often, so it's certainly worth a look at anyway.
“He would love to stay here. He's got on terrifically well with everyone. The players have taken to him, everybody has taken to him. Most importantly, the crowd have taken to him and rightly so because he has been absolutely outstanding.
“I always felt he had that potential, but he's playing remarkably well. He's been really excellent for us and he's improving as well.”
Quite what Tottenham's response will be is difficult to gauge, although Villas-Boas has shown little desire to discuss Rose's performances in public and appears to be plotting his own club's future without the Doncaster-born defender as part of the equation.
Negotiations with Tottenham are invariably fraught, and once Spurs chairman Daniel Levy becomes involved, it is unlikely that Black Cats officials will be able to strike a deal on the cheap.
However, O'Neill is clearly determined to recruit Rose permanently, and with Ellis Short expected to make funds available next month in an attempt to address Sunderland's perilous position close to the foot of the table, there is a strong chance of a transfer being agreed.
Rose has performed superbly at left-back all season, and when he was switched to the heart of midfield for the final quarter of Saturday's game, it was telling that he instantly became his side's most effective midfielder.
“I don't really want to shout it out because we want to try to keep him at the football club, but Danny has been splendid ever since he arrived,” said O'Neill. “As his fitness improves moving forward, you feel as though he is very capable of playing in that (midfield) position.
“We wanted to try him there beforehand, but he's been so decent at left-back that I didn't want to change him until he gets the requisite amount of fitness that you probably need to play in midfield. But he was excellent when he moved there.”
Rose's display was a rare bright point as Sunderland tumbled into the relegation zone on Saturday, with Fernando Torres' first-half double and a second-half strike from Juan Mata condemning the Wearsiders to their third defeat in the last four home matches.
Adam Johnson was the only other home player to really do themselves justice, with his second-half strike capping a bright display that hinted at a welcome return of confidence.
“I felt there were signs out there that Adam is coming back to his best,” said O'Neill. “He was having a go at players, taking on Ashley Cole at times, and that goal will give him a boost as well and that is important.
“There were clear signs that he's coming back to the form we all know he's capable of, but he must maintain that.”