JACK ROSS does not want to do his former club a favour by allowing Sunderland to sign in-form Hibernian striker Kevin Nisbet.

Sunderland officials have made contact with the hierarchy at Easter Road to discuss a possible move for Nisbet, who is currently the Scottish Premier League’s joint second-top scorer after netting ten goals in 20 games following a summer move from Dunfermline.

With Will Grigg facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines after suffering a knee injury, Lee Johnson is keen to strengthen the Black Cats’ attacking options this month.

Nisbet is regarded as a leading target, with Johnson confident he can put together an attractive enough financial package to land the 23-year-old, who cost Hibernian £250,000 when he made the move up to the SPL in July.

However, with his side currently sitting in fourth place in the table, just three points of third-placed Aberdeen, Ross has instructed the Hibs board to do all they can to hold on to his side’s leading scorer.

“It goes with the territory when you are having a good season,” said the former Sunderland manager. “You accept teams looking at your players – I would be amazed if people don’t look.

“But I wouldn’t want to lose him, full stop, and I would expect that, for those in senior management, it would need to be something that would turn their heads because we have to balance it out with what he has contributed and the value he gives us on the pitch.

“I think when you feel like you are building something that so far has produced but you think can be even better, then you don’t want to disrupt that. But, experience has taught me it can happen.

“The good thing is our stability as a club means there is no real pressure on us to do that. There may come a time in the future when the club has a decision to make. For the moment, I don’t think we want to disrupt what we have, but strengthen it.”

Ross was Sunderland manager when those above him decided to sell Josh Maja in January, even though the striker was easily the Black Cats’ most effective attacking threat. Ross’ side failed to adequately replace Maja despite splashing out £3m on Will Grigg, and ultimately missed out on promotion in the second half of the season.