SAM ALLARDYCE will request detailed medical updates on Lamine Kone as he ponders whether to make a January move for the Sunderland defender.

Allardyce has identified Kone as a potential January target after working with the centre-half during his time in charge at the Stadium of Light.

Allardyce signed the Ivory Coast international from Lorient in January 2016, and watched him make an instant impact as Sunderland hauled themselves away from relegation trouble in the second half of the season.

Kone’s performances in the first five months of his Sunderland career almost secured him a move to Everton in the summer of 2016, but the Black Cats rejected two offers from the Goodison Park club, the second of which was worth around £20m.

Since then, Kone’s career has nosedived, with his inconsistent displays contributing to Sunderland’s relegation last season under David Moyes. The 28-year-old was in and out of the side in the early weeks of the current campaign, and has been sidelined since late October after sustaining a knee injury.

Last week, Black Cats boss Chris Coleman was saying he did not expect him to be available for “two or three months”, and Allardyce will request a detailed medical analysis of Kone’s current problem before deciding whether to firm up his interest when the transfer window reopens at the start of January.

The Sunderland hierarchy will be willing to work closely with their former boss as they would like to sell Kone next month if at all possible.

Coleman knows he will have to raise funds if he wants to make permanent additions of his own, and sees Kone as one of his few saleable assets. The centre-half is no longer worth anything like the £20m sum Everton were willing to pay a year-and-a-half ago, but if Sunderland were able to sell him for around half that price, the deal could have a major impact in terms of Coleman’s ability to reshape his squad.

Allardyce regards Kone as one of the most naturally-talented defenders he has worked with at club level, but harbours understandable concerns about the African’s ability to fully recover from his knee problems.

While Sunderland are keen to sell Kone at the turn of the year, they desperately want to hold on to Lewis Grabban.

However, the decision could be taken out of their hands, with Grabban’s permanent employers, Bournemouth, having the right to trigger a recall clause in the striker’s loan deal next month.

Eddie Howe does not see Grabban having a long-term future at the Vitality Stadium, and as a result, Bournemouth could opt to recall the 29-year-old if they think there is a good chance of them being able to sell him permanently.

Wolves and Fulham have already been linked with a potential move, and now Aston Villa have become the latest Championship club to flag up an interest.

Villa boss Steve Bruce is keen to sign a new forward, with Jonathan Kodjia nursing a long-term injury that could see him miss the majority of the rest of the season.

Financial fair play regulations mean Villa could struggle to put together an acceptable offer for Grabban, who has scored 11 goals in 16 league starts despite Sunderland’s struggles this season, but the Midlands club could push for a loan deal that will automatically become a permanent switch in the summer.

“It’s easier if you’ve got a bit of money to try to buy a centre-forward, which at the moment we haven’t got,” said Bruce, at the weekend. “But it’s vitally important that we still have to be on our guard. Can we be creative? Can we find somebody? I’m sure this club will enable me to do it.”