Sunderland sporting director Lee Congerton has been asked to draw up contingency plans in case Patrick van Aanholt's shoulder injury rules him out longer than expected.
Dutchman van Aanholt is scheduled to return around mid-January, which would negate the need to replace him with a new signing in that left-back slot.
However, Black Cats boss Gus Poyet wants to make sure all bases are covered just in case the 24-year-old's recovery hits the buffers:
"I met Lee [Congerton] to define a few things.
"Let’s say it [left-back] is a position that needs to be on standby.
"We need to have an option, just in case something doesn’t work and Patrick’s recovery has a setback.
"It all depends on how he recovers.
"If he doesn’t have any setbacks, it’s going to be the middle of January before he is training again.
"But he is a fit lad and, once the healing after the operation is finished, the speed of the recover is up to him.
His situation was further complicated when it was revealed that he'd require surgery on the injury, thus turning a potential six-week lay-off into three months.
Though experienced French defender Anthony Reveillere has been excellent on the left in van Aanholt's absence, Poyet is still looking to add cover should the Dutch international fail to make his comeback during the January transfer window.