Tottenham have their sights on Sunderland hitman Kenwyne Jones again.
Spurs boss Harry Redknapp will face competition from both Aston Villa and Liverpool.
But his bargaining chip could be skipper Robbie Keane, despite the White Hart Lane boss saying he does not want to sell the Irishman in January.
Redknapp has been told he must sell before he can buy in 2010, but he could fund another move for Jones by cashing in on either Keane or Russian striker Roman Pavlyuchenko.
The Black Cats rejected a £16million bid from Spurs for the Trinidad and Tobago striker last season, with Jones committing himself to a new four-and-a-half year deal on Wearside in January.
But Redknapp remains a firm admirer of his swashbuckling style and could even try to tempt Black Cats boss Steve Bruce by offering Republic of Ireland star Keane in part-exchange.
Keane has been linked with a January loan move to his boyhood idols Celtic, but Spurs chairman Daniel Levy doesn’t favour that alternative and the Scottish side will also struggle to match Keane’s wages.
Levy has made it clear that, having spent big on signing the likes of Keane, Jermain Defoe and Wilson Palacios, any incoming deals will have to be self-financing. Sunderland inquired about the much-travelled Keane in the summer before buying England striker Darren Bent from Spurs for a bargain £10m.
Black Cats chairman Niall Quinn remains close to his fellow Dubliner. He finished his career playing alongside Keane in the Republic’s attack.
It remains to be seen whether Bruce could be tempted to part with Jones, but he admitted recently he will be “ruthless” in his bid to shake Sunderland out of a poor spell of form which has seen them win just once away from home all season.
Jones has played second fiddle to Bent this season and just two of his six goals have come in away matches.
But it could be Bruce will want to give the Bent-Jones partnership more time to blossom. That wouldn’t stop Redknapp (above), however, coming back in during the summer window. Bruce hopes Sunderland can put their miserable away form behind them and that skipper Lorik Cana can again inspire his team-mates when they go to Blackburn tomorrow
Bruce said: “We have badly missed Lorik Cana when he has been out of the side. The same goes for Lee Cattermole. I know for a fact that when we have Cana in the team we play better.
“Lorik gives us an edge and brings character and spirit to the side. We must stop giving away soft goals.”