JORDAN PICKFORD is set to lead the summer exodus out of Sunderland, with Everton increasingly confident of tying up a £17m deal for the in-demand goalkeeper.

Pickford is one of the few saleable assets in the Sunderland squad that will crash into the Championship later this month, and the club will look to cash in to help address the financial shortfall that will accompany their demotion.

The 23-year-old does not particularly want to leave Wearside, having been born in Washington and spent the whole of his career on the Black Cats’ books.

However, he has grudgingly accepted he will have to move on in order to further his career and enhance his prospects on the international stage. Having been promoted to England’s senior squad this season, Pickford will have a good chance of making the squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia provided he continues at his current rate of progress.

His availability is hardly a surprise, and a number of clubs have been monitoring him closely in the last few months as they ponder a potential summer move.

Manchester City and Liverpool have both been weighing up Pickford’s capabilities, but it is Everton who are currently at the front of queue and expected to win the race for the youngster.

Everton boss Ronald Koeman is desperate to sign a new goalkeeper this summer, having relied on Joel Robles and Maarten Stekelenburg during the current campaign. Stekelenburg was dropped after a series of shaky displays in the first half of the season, while Robles’ limitations have been exposed on a number of occasions in recent weeks.

Koeman wants a new number one when the transfer window reopens, and has identified Pickford as his preferred option.

He is set to launch a formal approach once the season is at an end, and is confident of securing a deal for around £17m. Sunderland will be hoping to secure at least £20m for Pickford’s services, but will be mindful that their negotiating position has been weakened by their relegation.

Everton are aware they will face competition for Pickford, who has rapidly earned a reputation as the most exciting young goalkeeper in the country, but are willing to more than treble his current wages on Wearside in order to lure him to Goodison Park.

Pickford will be back between the sticks when Sunderland travel to Hull City tomorrow, and will make what is almost certain to be his final appearance for the Black Cats when they head to Chelsea on the final day of the season.

The game at Stamford Bridge will also mark Jermain Defoe’s final outing as a Sunderland player, with the striker certain to leave this summer because of a relegation clause in his contract.

Sunderland officials are powerless to prevent Defoe heading elsewhere, with Bournemouth and West Ham set to tussle for his talents.

Bournemouth came close to making a move for Defoe in January, and Eddie Howe is keen to add the 34-year-old’s experience to his developing side. West Ham are set for a radical summer overhaul that could see them add up to three new strikers, regardless of whether Slaven Bilic retains his current position as manager.

Bilic was asked about a potential move for Defoe when he spoke to the press yesterday ahead of his side’s game with Tottenham, but was noncommittal about his plans.

“Now is not the time to talk about transfers,” said the West Ham boss. “We are talking about them with the scouts and the board. It is time to talk about Tottenham.”

Meanwhile, Hull boss Marco Silva has warned of the dangers of complacency ahead of tomorrow’s game at the KCOM Stadium.

Hull are currently two points clear of the drop zone, and will strengthen their position considerably if they beat Sunderland, with their leading relegation rivals, Swansea, facing a tricky game with Everton.

The Black Cats effectively have nothing to play for after their relegation was confirmed last weekend, but Silva has warned his players they will be dicing with danger if they assume Sunderland will simply roll over.

“It’s a dangerous game,” said the Hull boss. “We need to prepare well and expect a lot of our opponent. Sunderland’s position is not important – we need to respect them.

“It will be a big mistake if we think it’s an easy game, and I hope nobody thinks that. What we want is to do our best, and I was to control what is possible to control – the game, our opponent and our players.

“Goal difference is important, so we need a clean sheet, and we will try to score as many goals as possible. But if we win 1-0, it is still good to us.”