Sunderland, Liverpool and Arsenal have been the leading clubs chasing England under-21 striker Connor Wickham and it is the Black Cats who have made the first positive move to Ipswich in the race to secure his signature.
Steve Bruce has had a £13m bid accepted by Ipswich for the 18-year-old, who is largely considered to be among the best young talents for the future in England.
Sunderland are in desperate need of a striker after selling Darren Bent to Aston Villa in January and watching Danny Welbeck return to Manchester United after a successful loan stint at the Stadium of Light last season.
This means that Asamoah Gyan and Fraizer Campbell are the only recognised strikers in their ranks and this could be why they are preparing to take a massive chance with Wickham.
The £13m offer would see £5m paid to Ipswich up front and this offer may be far more than both Liverpool and Arsenal are prepared to pay for a player who may be a raw talent but is still largely unproven.
Wickham scored nine goals in 37 Championship appearances for Ipswich last season and even a slight improvement in this ratio would please Sunderland as they have avoiding relegation as their chief concern this season.
The Premier League odds have Sunderland at 7/1 to be relegated this season, while they are 1/20 to stay up.
Ipswich are in no big rush to sell Wickham and manager Paul Jewell believes the club will not be pushed into a deal that they are fully comfortable with.
Jewell said: “Connor has never given me any indication that he wants to leave. Our backs are not against the wall and we are in control of the situation.
“We do not want to sell Connor Wickham but if he wants to leave and the right offer comes in, we will have to consider it.”