Albion winger Will Buckley has been targeted again by his old boss Gus Poyet at Sunderland.
Argus sources in the North-East have confirmed Sunderland’s strong interest in the player signed by Poyet when he was the Seagulls’ manager.
Buckley was on the bench when Albion lost their opening game in the Championship against Sheffield Wednesday at the Amex on Saturday, despite the late withdrawal of Solly March with a back injury.
Boss Sami Hyypia preferred rookie Shamir Fenelon in the starting line-up.
Albion face Cheltenham in the Capital One Cup at the Amex tonight. Hyypia, reacting to reports linking Buckley with a move to the Premier League, told The Argus: “He is still here and hopefully he will play. When we have something to inform we’ll inform.”
Buckley’s bench role against Wednesday was unrelated to the hamstring problems which plagued him last season.
Hyypia said: “He has been fit all pre-season now. I decided the eleven who will start and in this case he was not in the starting line-up. He came on later on in the game.”
Buckley is also being linked with West Brom but the Argus understands they have distanced themselves from any interest.
Sunderland is the likely destination for the 24-year-old, bought by Albion from Watford for £1 million three years ago, providing a fee can be agreed between the clubs.
Poyet, sacked by the Seagulls last summer for gross misconduct, wants Liverpool’s Fabio Borini and Buckley to increase his attacking options for the Premier League campaign, which begins for Sunderland at West Brom on Saturday.
The Black Cats targeted Buckley in January, along with Crystal Palace, but he was sidelined at the time by hamstring trouble.
Oldham-born Buckley signed a new four-and-a-half year deal with Albion 18 months ago.
He has been less influential since Poyet’s departure. Sunderland believe a reunion with the Uruguayan and a return north to team up again with his good friend Liam Bridcutt, sold by Albion to the Black Cats in January, are all factors in their favour if they can thrash out an agreement with the Seagulls.