Scouting in Austria again
According to reports in Austria, Sunderland had a scout at last night's international friendly with Finland. The game held at the Tivoli Stadion in Innsbruck ended in a goal-apiece draw.
The Black Cats representative was merely one of a number of scouts from clubs across Europe, including Arsenal, West Brom, Aston Villa, Sampdoria, Atalanta, Trabzonspor and Hertha Berlin.
Sunderland have been regular observers of the Austrian national team in the past couple of years and watched several games before and after last summer's European Championships.
Sam Allardyce was active in monitoring the Austrian market during his spell at the Stadium of Light with former Sunderland defender and coach Gordon Chisholm taking in matches in Vienna last year and David Moyes' trusted talent spotter Robert Cooke was in attendance for a World Cup Qualifier against Wales in the autumn.
So who might Sunderland have been scouting?
Well, the cream of the Finnish side is probably striker Teemu Pukki who plays for Danish Superliga club Brøndby. That said, the 26-year-old has been linked with a move to the Stadium of Light before but doubts remain over his ability to perform in this country after a dismal stint at Celtic which ended in 2015.
As for the rest, promising midfielder Thomas Lamm plays for Nottingham Forest but the 23-year-old has endured a rocky start to his career at the City Ground. Left-back Jukka Raitala is with Crewe in League Two whilst centre-half Paulus Arajuuri was linked with Rangers last summer but ended up staying with Lech Poznan.
Genk's 22-year-old right-back Jere Uronen might also be of interest and Sunderland supposedly had a scout watching the Belgian club recently when they took on Tottenham in the Europa League.
As for Austria, defenders Martin Hinteregger and Aleksandar Dragovic were both said to be interesting Sam Allardyce last summer and both were on the pitch last night. That said, the two men may have plenty of suitors should they decide to leave their present clubs - FC Augsburg and Bayer Leverkusen - at the end of the season.
Amongst the rest of the Austrians, 21-year old defender Valentino Lazaro has been on the radar of English clubs for a while and Schalke midfielder Alessandro Schopf, at the age of 23, might also fit the bill.
O'Shea back on Wearside
Sunderland defender John O'Shea is back on Wearside following his headline-making appearance for the Republic of Ireland on Friday. The 35-year-old missed last night's friendly with Iceland in Dublin.
The veteran centre-half was one of four players in Martin O'Neill's squad allowed to travel back to their clubs after the bruising World Cup qualifier at Ireland's Aviva Stadium last week.
O'Shea was caught by Real Madrid's Gareth Bale in the 68th minute of the goalless draw and needed multiple stitches in a gash to his shin as a result. The Sunderland man faces a race to be fit for Saturday's crucial trip to Watford.
Larsson earns cap number 88
Two fat ladies for Sebastian Larsson as he earned his 88th cap for Sweden last night. The Swedes beat Portugal 3-2 in a friendly match played in Madeira.
The Sunderland midfielder featured in the centre of midfield from the start having been an unused substitute in Sweden's four-goal demolition of Belarus at the weekend in a World Cup Qualifier.
Larsson has spent the bulk of his Sweden career playing on the wing or at right-back but had declared his future preference as being in a central midfield role ahead of this set of international fixtures.
Bologna defender linked with move to the Stadium of Light
Sunderland have been linked with Bologna defender Adam Masina by Italian football site TMW. The 23-year-old left-back has made 80 appearances for the Serie A outfit and has a handful of Under-21 caps for Italy.
The 6ft 3in full-back has had a decent season overall in Serie A with Bologna securely rooted in mid-table though they have been in poor form of late.
Masina was forced to issue an apology via social media earlier this month for being part of a group of four players who were spotted in a discotheque until 2am during his side's slump in performance recently.
Although the night out took place four days before a game and with training not scheduled until after lunch the following day, Bologna fans were still outraged at the lack of professionalism shown by the players, particularly as their side had just been hammered 7-1 by Napoli.
That disco was at the Giostra nightclub in down town Bologna,
Giovedì 30 marzo, 21.30, Giostrá Bologna - grande serata di divertimento e beneficienza per @FondazioneAVSI #avsi #ifavolosiavsi70 pic.twitter.com/07rpuQukJm— Mario Alvisi (@alvisimario) March 22, 2017
With that in mind and the player thought to be keen to renegotiate his present deal at the Stadio Renato Dall'Ara, this sudden link to Sunderland may well be a mere tale planted to use as a bargaining tool.