SUNDERLAND face a fight to hold on to Anthony Patterson this summer, with Leicester City preparing a formal offer for the 22-year-old goalkeeper.

The rate of Patterson’s development will be highlighted later this month when he receives his maiden international call-up to the England Under-21 squad for matches against France and Croatia.

There were suggestions last week that the North Shields-born youngster could even be fast-tracked into Gareth Southgate’s senior squad, but while the England boss is known to have been hugely impressed with the assured manner in which Patterson has settled into life in the Championship this season, he is set to stick with Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope and Aaron Ramsdale for this month’s Euro 2024 qualifiers with Italy and Ukraine.

That will mean Patterson being named in Lee Carsley’s Under-21s squad, but his selection at that level will nevertheless highlight just how far he has come since he was appearing on loan for Notts County at the start of last year.

He is now firmly established as Sunderland’s number one shot-stopper, and his performances have not gone unnoticed, with Leicester set to lead a queue of top-flight clubs inquiring about his availability this summer.

Leicester will make the purchase of a new goalkeeper a key priority once the transfer window reopens, having spent the current campaign with Danny Ward as their number one, supported by Daniel Iversen, who played in Tuesday’s FA Cup defeat to Blackburn Rovers, and Alex Smithies.

Brendan Rodgers will support a pursuit of Patterson, who is contracted to the Stadium of Light until the summer of 2026, with the Leicester board already having pledged to back a summer overhaul at the King Power Stadium.

The Northern Echo: Anthony Patterson makes a penalty save against QPRAnthony Patterson makes a penalty save against QPR (Image: Ian Horrocks)

While Patterson would no doubt be reluctant to move to a club where he would have little chance of playing first-team football, a switch to Leicester would provide him with a realistic prospect of forcing his way into a Premier League starting line-up next season.

That would probably not be the case at Wolves, another club to have been linked with Patterson in recent weeks, as Jose Sa is firmly established as the number one at Molineux.

Sunderland boss Tony Mowbray would be understandably reluctant to lose Patterson, who has been an ever-present in the club’s Championship matches this season. Alex Bass is the Black Cats’ number two shot-stopper, but his only appearances this term have come in the early rounds of the cup competitions.

Sunderland’s ownership group want to continue to grow the club, and are prepared to invest in the summer transfer window, but there has always been an acceptance that a model based on the purchase and development of young players will inevitably result in some of those players being sold on in the future.

Dan Neil is another Sunderland youngster who is likely to have his admirers this summer, with Leicester also having been credited with an interest in securing his services in the past.

The 21-year-old started the season battling to try to secure a place in the Black Cats’ starting line-up, but has found himself as the club’s midfield general in recent weeks, stepping in for injured skipper Corry Evans.

He is set to be part of the side that lines up at the Stadium of Light on Saturday when former Sunderland boss, Alex Neil, brings his Stoke City team to Wearside, and is embracing the extra responsibility that has been piled onto his shoulders in the last few months.

“Corry is out for the season, so I have to step up because I think I am actually the oldest midfielder in the squad,” said Neil. “I’ve had to kind of take on that role, which wasn’t probably natural to me last season.

“I think if anyone had said last season that I’d play the Corry Evans role, everyone would have just kind of laughed because it wasn’t me at all.

“I feel like, as the season has progressed, I’m growing more into the role. Obviously, I still have things to work on, like everyone does, but that’s the difference this year as I’ve had to adapt to a new role.”