Watford are keen to push through a permanent deal for Everton misfit Tom Cleverley and will hold discussions with the Goodison Park hierarchy during the international break in order to try and seal an £8m (€9.2m) swoop.
His potential appearance against the Black Cats would be the ninth of his second stint with the Hornets and mean that Watford would have to pay Everton £8m and make the former Manchester United starlet a permanent part of their squad.
But Walter Mazzarri has been so impressed by the versatile midfielder's performances in recent weeks that the club want to confirm a deal before he triggers the clause. It is hoped that the news of signing Cleverley permanently would boost the atmosphere around the club after a dismal run of form; the Hornets have only won two of their last 12 league matches and currently lie in 14th place in the Premier League.
Everton signed Cleverley on a free transfer in the summer of 2015 but he soon fell down the pecking order and Ronald Koeman swiftly deemed him surplus to requirements upon starting his managerial spell on Merseyside. The former Wigan Athletic loanee started four times for the Toffees during the first half of this season but regularly had to contend with a place among the substitutes under Koeman, who has a wealth of central midfield options at his disposal.
The Everton boss signed Morgan Schneiderlin in January and recently promoted talented youngster Tom Davies to the senior squad at Goodison, thus seemingly ending Cleverley's chances of game-time on Merseyside for good. Gareth Barry, Idrissa Gueye, James McCarthy, Ross Barkley and Muhamed Besic can also operate in Koeman's engine room.