Sunderland boss Gus Poyet is ready to return to former club Brighton to make a double swoop for Liam Bridcutt and Will Buckley.
Press Association Sport understands the Black Cats are in advanced talks with the Seagulls over the midfield duo, both 24, as Poyet attempts to strengthen his squad for a concerted fight against relegation from the Barclays Premier League.
The Uruguayan's interest in the pair has been no secret, but the news that deals could be close is encouraging for the manager, whose first signing will be officially completed on New Year's Day when Fiorentina full-back Marcos Alonso joins on loan for the rest of the season.
Poyet revealed on Monday that he hoped to add up to four players to his squad during the winter transfer window with owner and chairman Ellis Short prepared to back him, although not with unlimited funds.
Director of football Roberto De Fanti, of course, presided over a summer spending spree which saw the club recruit no fewer than 14 players, a policy which has yielded limited results.
The fact that Sunderland are now engaged in the process of trying to land the Brighton pair suggests the manager is having a greater say on transfers than predecessor Paolo Di Canio, something he indicated he wanted shortly after his arrival on Wearside as the ill-fated Italian's replacement.
Holding midfielder Bridcutt has made 11 appearances to date for the Seagulls this season while winger Buckley has 19 to his name.
Poyet would not be drawn on possible outgoings from the club during January, but nine members of the squad are out of contract at the end of the current season and that could be significant.