Sunderland have been given a boost in their transfer dealings as they have received a clear indication as to the availability of Aston Villa duo Ross McCormack and Tommy Elphick, as the pair have been left out of the club's pre-season games in Germany.
With the Black Cats showing interest in signing both players this summer, the news that neither have travelled with Steve Bruce's side is said to have been considered as a green light for the Championship side.
The Birmingham Mail report the omission of McCormack and Elphick has thrown their futures at Villa Park into doubt, with the former understood to have been the recipient of an enquiry last weekend by the Black Cats.
The decision not to take the former Leeds United and Fulham striker seems to have come abruptly as he had until now been a part of Villa's pre-season fixtures.
The 30-year-old was said to have been given a fresh start under Bruce after a falling out last season due to a broken gate which McCormack cited as a reason for him missing training, but all indications now suggest the £12m man is once again on the periphery of the club's plans.
Elphick on the other hand has been subject to interest from rivals Birmingham City after finding regular first-team football hard to come by at Aston Villa following his move to the club last summer from Bournemouth.
Both Elphick and McCormack are joined by Gary Gardner and Aaron Tshibola as further players not chosen for the club to play in the Cup of Traditions.