With Sunderland set to face another year in the third-tier of English football, manager Lee Johnson will be hoping to make considerable strides in terms of recruitment when the transfer window opens next month.
Whilst the 39-year-old has already decided to part ways with a host of players ahead of the 2020/21 campaign, he will be keen to keep hold of some of the club's most promising talents this summer.
One of the individuals who will he hoping to become a regular fixture in Sunderland's side in the not-too-distant future is Josh Hawkes.
Since joining the Black Cats last year following a three-year stint at Hartlepool, the attacking midfielder has been used almost exclusively at youth level by the club.
Handed his first appearance by former Sunderland boss Phil Parkinson last year in an EFL Trophy clash with Fleetwood Town, Hawkes has gone on to produce a number of impressive displays for the Under-23s.
With Hawkes' performances catching the eye, it is hardly a shock that he has now become the subject of transfer speculation.
According to the East Anglian Daily Times, Ipswich Town are reportedly monitoring his situation at Sunderland ahead of a potential swoop as manager Paul Cook looks to build a team that is capable of pushing on in the third-tier next summer.
Whilst Hawkes' game-time was limited last season, he could be given the opportunity to impress at the Stadium of Light as the club are set to wave goodbye to the likes of Chris Maguire and Jordan Jones when their respective deals expire.
GIVEMESPORT's Joshua Cole says...
Whilst the jury is still out on whether Hawkes will be able to make the step up in level, he did illustrate a lot of promise for Sunderland's Under-23s during the previous campaign.
Therefore, by learning from Johnson's guidance next season, there is no reason why the attacking midfielder cannot make a positive impression in the third-tier.
However, with Ipswich seemingly looking to seal a deal for Hawkes, it will be intriguing to see whether Sunderland are able to convince him to stay this summer.
Whereas the Black Cats may be able to seal a respectable fee for the midfielder due to the fact that his current contract runs until 2022, parting ways with Hawkes would leave them short of options in his particular position and thus they ought to instead look to integrate him into their first-team plans.
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