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Sunderland expand scouting capacity; Updates on potential targets & Big Sam set to reunite 2016 squad

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In this evening's news update, we ponder the arrival of a new recruitment consultant as potential targets for a Sunderland side about to be rebuilt begin to be seriously linked with next season's rivals; and Big Sam looks set to reunite his 2016 Black Cats squad down in South London.

Sunderland v Crystal Palace - Premier League Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images

Technical scout lands on temporary basis

Former Leicester, Tottenham and Derby County technical scout Rob MacKenzie has joined Sunderland on a temporary basis to advise David Moyes and Chief Football Officer Simon Wilson as the club seeks to overhaul its squad this summer.

Sunderland v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

MacKenzie was with the Foxes for four years before moving to Spurs. There he departed for Derby County after Paul Mitchell, the head of recruitment he worked under at White Hart Lane, appeared to fall out with chairman Daniel Levy.

The 31-year-old then spent just a few months at Derby under Nigel Pearson before departing last October.

On his Linkedin profile, MacKenzie describes his upcoming stint at Sunderland thus:

A 3 month period of consultancy focusing specifically on evaluating scouting processes & providing recommendations leading into the summer transfer window.

Rob MacKenzie's profile photo on business networking site LinkedIn

Sunderland have had a steady turnover of technical scouting personnel in recent years. Most recently Laban Scott Libby - who had headed up a team of analysts - departed and has now joined up with his former boss Lee Congerton at Celtic. Steve Houston remains in post as head of scouting having joined the club in 2014.

Scouts and analysts like to label themselves as having found the next big thing and Mackenzie is no exception. He arrives billed as the man who played a part in Leicester unearthing Riyad Mahrez.

Excitement elsewhere in the north east press abounds but the Loughborough University graduate really is more your number-crunching video analyst than the dawning of a revolution at a club which has gotten player identification and recruitment so badly wrong in recent years.

It also appears MacKenzie has been working with the club for several weeks already.


Target Watch

Now that the Football League's season has been completed, the transfer market in which Sunderland will be submerged this summer has stepped up a gear and rumoured targets are already being linked elsewhere.

Southampton striker Sam Gallagher, who has been personally scouted by David Moyes, is set to join Cardiff City according to the print edition of The Sun today.

Brentford v Blackburn Rovers - Sky Bet Championship
Sam Gallagher (R) playing for Blackburn against Brentford at the weekend
Photo by Harry Murphy/Getty Images

Neil Warnock, whose side coincidentally faced the 21-year-old striker on Sunday in his final game on loan at Blackburn, is said to be keen on landing the 6ft 4in target man and according to the report currently has the edge in the battle for Gallagher's signature.

Elsewhere, Derby County are said to be challenging Aston Villa in a two-way battle for defender Aden Flint. The £5-million rated centre half has been a stand-out performer for Bristol City this season and was scouted by Sam Allardyce during his spell as manager at Sunderland last year.

Brighton & Hove Albion v Bristol City - Sky Bet Championship
Aden Flint (R)
Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Flint is also said to be interesting West Ham and West Brom and the 27-year-old may fancy testing himself in the Premier League though there are suggestions elsewhere that the Bristol City man has already agreed personal terms with a rival Championship side.


Big Sam recreating Sunderland of 2016

Sam Allardyce now appears to be in pole position to land Jermain Defoe and Lamine Kone from Sunderland at the end of the season.

And in recent days, the Crystal Palace manager has been loosely linked with Wahbi Khazri as he seems determined to reunite all three Sunderland players with ex-teammate Patrick van Aanholt at Selhurst Park.

Manchester City v Crystal Palace - Premier League
Patrick van Aanholt in Crystal Palace colours
Photo by Mark Robinson/Getty Images

Various reports indicate that Big Sam is hopeful he can persuade Defoe to move to Palace once he is released from his contract at Sunderland, having confirmed his interest in the striker last week.

Crowned 'Supporters' Player of the Year' last night, the 34-year-old will play his final game in front of the Stadium of Light crowd this weekend when Sunderland play host to Swansea.

With one West Ham website claiming the Hammers have cooled their interest in Defoe having noted his loss of form in the final third of this season, the England man reuniting with Allardyce - who did so much damage to Sunderland in leaving for the national team job last summer - seems suitably inevitable.

Hull City v Sunderland - Premier League
Defoe's goal on Saturday
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Normally we would dismiss claims in such sites, but that particular West Ham outlet were the first to break the existence of Defoe's leave-for-free contract clause during the winter transfer window so their latest claims about the Hammers looking elsewhere for a younger target-man may hold some veracity.

And with Palace set to battle West Brom for central defender Kone as well, the gang-back-together merry-go-round looks ready to set off in South London with rumours of adding Khazri in for good measure.