Steve Bruce is ready to offer Manchester United duo Wes Brown and Darron Gibson a career lifeline at Sunderland.
The former Reds captain is planning a raid on his old club this summer.
Bruce is aware that Sir Alex Ferguson is set for a clear-out at Old Trafford as he bids to win a 20th title and lead United back to the top in Europe.
That means several fringe players will be allowed to leave the Premier League champions and Bruce will waste no time in trying to lure them to the Stadium of Light.
The Sunderland manager is also looking to rebuild his team after seeing them fall away badly in the second half of the season.
He lost England striker Darren Bent to Aston Villa in the January transfer window, while United forward Danny Welbeck is due to return to Old Trafford from his season-long loan at the Wearside club. Bruce knows he needs to bring in several players to bolster his squad if they are progress from mid-table to a European finish.
Brown is looking for a new start after being pushed out of the picture at United.
The former England international has slipped behind Chris Smalling, Jonny
Evans, John O’Shea and the Da Silva twins in the defensive pecking order and will find first team opportunities even more limited next season.
Gibson has failed to establish himself as a regular at United and at the age of 23 will not be happy to remain a bit part player.
With Ferguson targeting a list of midfielders including Luka Modric, Wesley Sneijder and Jack Rodwell this summer, the Republic of Ireland international will realise that his time at United is coming to an end.
Bruce has the option of using Jordan Henderson as a carrot in any deal for Brown and Gibson, though it is debateable whether Ferguson will want to move for the England midfielder right now.
The United manager has asked to be kept informed about Henderson’s future, but he is already planning a heavy summer of spending in the transfer market.
Liverpool tabled a bid of £13m for the 20-year-old on Thursday, but Sunderland are hoping to hold out for closer to £20m.