SUNDERLAND are hoping Dion Sanderson’s successful loan spell on Wearside will stand them in good stead as they look to beat off Championship competition to re-sign the defender this summer.

Black Cats officials have flagged up their interest in Sanderson with the hierarchy at Molineux, with the 22-year-old having been identified as a key central-defensive target.

Sanderson made 27 appearances for Sunderland during a loan spell from Wolves in the 2021-22 season, impressing before a back injury brought his campaign to a premature end.

The Midlander, who was voted Sunderland supporters’ Young Player of the Year, enjoyed his time on Wearside, but felt unable to consider a return to the Stadium of Light while the Black Cats were still in League One.

He spent the second half of last season on loan at QPR, but struggled to make much of an impact at Loftus Road as he failed to hold down a place in Mark Warburton’s starting side.

He is due to return to Wolves for the start of pre-season training, but is not expected to feature in Bruno Lage’s plans for next season. As a result, he is set to move on again this summer, with Wolves officials willing to consider both permanent and loan offers.

Sunderland’s recruitment team are also willing to consider both options, and are hoping Sanderson’s prior experience of life in the North-East will help their cause.

The Northern Echo:

Sheffield United have also made contact with Wolves to flag up their own interest, having made an unsuccessful attempt to sign Sanderson on loan last season before he ended up moving to QPR.

Blades boss Paul Heckingbottom is a long-time admirer of the central defender, and is keen to bolster his side’s defence after they lost out to Nottingham Forest in the Championship play-offs.

Sunderland accept they face a considerable battle, but there is a determination to do as much as possible in an attempt to land Sanderson, who is currently regarded as the club’s number one defensive target.

Sunderland’s defence is in something of a state of flux, with Callum Doyle having returned to Manchester City at the end of his loan spell, Arbenit Xhemajli having been released at the end of his contract and Bailey Wright’s future currently uncertain.

Wright’s contract is due to end later this month, and while he has been offered a new deal with the Black Cats, he is currently considering his options while on international duty with Australia.

Wright scored the Socceroos’ equaliser as they came from behind to beat Jordan in a friendly earlier this week, with the game in the Middle East acting as a warm-up for next week’s World Cup play-off against the United Arab Emirates. The winner of that game will take on Peru for a place at this winter’s finals in Qatar.

It has been a hectic few weeks for the 29-year-old, who suffered a major illness scare before playing a key role in Sunderland’s play-off final win over Wycombe.

The Northern Echo:

Wright suffered severe stomach pains and flu-like symptoms in the two days before the game, and was transferred to London on a private helicopter to ensure he did not infect the rest of the Black Cats squad.

“I just had absolute stomach pain and ache, and was starting to get the sweats and fever, and the shakes,” said Wright. “From there to lunchtime, I was sick every half an hour, and in bed shivering and sweating. I was thinking, ‘How long could this be for? Why? Why is this happening now?”