SUNDERLAND have held talks over re-signing Ellis Simms, but Everton are yet to make a final decision on whether or not they will be selling the striker.

Simms spent the first half of last season on loan at the Stadium of Light before being recalled to Everton as the Goodison Park club battled against relegation in the second half of the campaign.

The forward, who is about to enter the final year of his contract on Merseyside, made 11 senior appearances for Everton last term, scoring in March’s 2-2 draw with Chelsea. Earlier in the campaign, he scored seven goals in 14 starts and three substitute appearances with Sunderland.

The 22-year-old’s contractual situation means Everton could well look to move him on this summer, with Sean Dyche unlikely to regard him as a likely starter next season. However, any decision to sell will be contingent upon Everton making attacking additions of their own, and as things stand, the club have not been able to complete a deal in the early stages of the transfer window.

If that changes, Simms will almost certainly be allowed to move, with Sunderland hoping his successful spell on Wearside in the first half of last season will help persuade him to return to the Stadium of Light.

Simms enjoyed his time in the North-East, and proved an effective replacement for the injured Ross Stewart in the autumn before he was recalled to his parent club. Ironically, Stewart picked up a season-ending injury shortly after Simms was recalled, meaning the Everton youngster would almost certainly have been a regular starter in the second half of the campaign had he been allowed to remain with the Black Cats.

Sunderland have completed the signing of one forward already this summer, recruiting Portuguese striker Luis Semedo from Benfica, but with Joe Gelhardt having returned to Leeds United following the end of his loan spell and with question marks hanging over the long-term future of Stewart, the Black Cats’ recruitment team are keen to add another attacker to Tony Mowbray’s squad.

Simms would fit the bill, and would have the added benefit of not needing time to bed into the Sunderland squad, but the Wearsiders will not be the only club hoping to push through a deal if Everton give the green light for bids.

Stoke City, who are managed by former Sunderland boss Alex Neil, are also known to be extremely interested in Simms, and are understood to have held talks of their own with the Everton hierarchy.

Ipswich Town have also been linked with a move as they prepare for their return to the Championship following last season’s promotion from League One, while another newly-promoted club, Sheffield Wednesday, are also believed to harbour a strong interest in Simms.