SUNDERLAND are considering a move for Jermain Defoe – but Lee Johnson admits “a million and one things” will have to fall into place in order to complete a deal for the former Black Cat.

Defoe’s contract with Rangers came to an end this week, with the striker having made just two Scottish Premier League appearances this season and the arrival of Giovanni van Bronckhorst to replace Steven Gerrard having limited his coaching opportunities on the training ground.

At the age of 39, the striker is clearly in the twilight of his career, but before he hangs up his boots, he has said he would like a final opportunity to “play in front of fans and be part of a successful side”.

Defoe was a hugely popular figure during his two-and-half years on Wearside, scoring 37 goals in 93 appearances, and with Nathan Broadhead sidelined with a long-term hamstring injury, Sunderland are looking to recruit another striker this month.

Johnson insists there is no suggestion of a deal with Defoe being close, but the Black Cats boss pointedly refused to rule out a move for the veteran as he discussed the club’s transfer plans ahead of tomorrow’s game at Accrington Stanley.

“We’re fully aware of Jermain’s situation, as everybody is,” said Johnson. “We’re fully aware of his character traits, and the professional standards he’s adhered to over the course of his career at an elite and top level.

“As in any particular transfer scenario, there’s a million and one things that would have to happen for that to be beneficial for all parties. That would be the key with any out-of-contract player, and in particular with Jermain.

“It’s as simple as that really. There’s not really much more detail I can go into because it’s an open-market player that would be in consideration for the pros and cons, as would any other open-market player.

“Obviously, the rapport with the area always comes into account, and that respect for an individual, not only as a great human being, but that he’s also had a great career, will also always come into it.”

Since being appointed as Phil Parkinson’s successor, Johnson has put a large amount of stock in bringing down the average age of the Sunderland squad.

Signing Defoe would appear to fly in the face of what he has been trying to do, but he claims each case must be judged on its merits and there are always one-off deals that might prove an exception to the general rule.

“Removing the Jermain Defoe part of the question, any signing has to be right for the football club,” he said. “It’s as simple as that. Any potential signing should be looked at from a number of ways – what that particular individual can bring on the pitch and off the pitch.

“It’s mainly on the pitch, because you obviously don’t sign someone for what they bring off the pitch, you sign them for what they can do on the field, but at the same time, we make every decision for the long-term benefit of the football club.

“That won’t change, and every player that’s on the free market or is put on the transfer market by other clubs, or that we find out about from external sources such as agents, it’s our responsibility to do the due diligence, then we can make an informed decision on anyone we sign.”