Sunderland boss Roy Keane is targeting Danny Higginbotham to increase competition in central defence.
The Wearsiders are understood to have revived their interest in the 28-year-old Stoke player after seeing their approaches earlier this summer rebuffed.
However, Keane is not looking to the former Manchester United trainee to fill his problem left-back spot and is instead hoping he would push push Nyron Nosworthy, Paul McShane and Russell Anderson for a place in the starting line-up.
McShane is a doubt for Saturday's Barclays Premier League clash with Liverpool at the Stadium of Light after having 10 stitches put into a head wound after a clash with Antoine Sibierski in the 3-0 defeat at Wigan at the weekend.
Anderson is still coming to terms with life in the English top flight after his £1million move south from Aberdeen, while Danny Collins has played most of his football on Wearside at left-back.
Stoke resisted the Black Cats' initial attempt to recruit Higginbotham when they offered £2million for the player.
However, last season's Championship winners are hoping an improved bid could prove successful with the defender stalling over a new contract.
City boss Tony Pulis has signed former Sunderland defender Jody Craddock on a month's loan from Wolves, and with the two clubs in talks over extending the deal until the end of the year, that could ease Higginbotham's passage to the north-east.