Fretful Sunderland fans will have spent so long looking at down at their heroes residing in the Premier League doldrums that they won’t have yet noticed the vultures beginning to circle above the Stadium of Light.
With safety all but assured for Hull and West Ham, they’ve begun eyeing up summer acquisitions and have cast their minces over Black Cats duo Emanuele Giaccherini and Jack Colback.
The Wearsiders – 18/5 to beat Everton next – have used the midfield pair sparingly since the turn of 2014, pitching them both in from the start just once since New Year’s Day.
Colback, in particular, has been a bringer of bad luck in recent weeks, with the team losing each of the previous five he’s started.
Italian winger Giaccherini hasn’t enjoyed the best of times either, not starting a victorious league game for the north east club since they beat Manchester City in early November.
Genoa have also been linked with a move for the 27-year-old 18-cap international, but Hull and the Hammers are willing to hand him a chance to prove himself in the English top tier.
Meanwhile, the Tigers are also interested in bringing utility man Colback to Humberside.
Steve Bruce is familiar with the midfielder from his dark days manning the Sunderland rudder and tried to sign him prior to the start this campaign.
Victory over Everton is borderline imperative if the barbershop-striped side are to avoid relegation and, subsequently, withhold a hope of hanging onto their prized assets.
Currently circling the drain, their morale receives a much-welcomed boost in the shape of the two wins they scored over this foe from as many of their recent meetings.
Each came via a 1-0 scoreline, the second of which contributed to a seasonal tally of eight wins from 11 in all competitions settled by a single goal since Poyet’s arrival.
A similarly slender margin is surely all they’ll be able to muster if they can scrape the spoils against the Merseyside outfit, with bwin offering 7/5 about the contest being settled by one goal either way.