Sunderland will be aiming to draft in some classy operators this summer before attempting to secure promotion to the Championship during the upcoming campaign.
Having suffered heartbreak in the play-offs for the second time in three years, the Black Cats will be under no illusions about how difficult it will be to mount a push for a top-two finish next season.
Keen to put his own stamp on Sunderland's squad, manager Lee Johnson launched a major overhaul last month as a host of senior players were released.
With the Black Cats unable to call upon the services of Jordan Jones who has returned to Rangers following his loan spell at the Stadium of Light, they were recently linked with a move for another winger.
A report by Football Insider earlier this year revealed that Sunderland were amongst a clutch of clubs who were monitoring Owen Dale's situation at Crewe Alexandra ahead of the transfer window.
The 22-year-old, who is also understood to be the subject of interest from Ipswich Town, Blackpool and Preston North End, netted 11 goals in 43 League One appearances last season whilst he also provided two assists for his team-mates.
Dale's current deal at Crewe will see him stay at the club for the upcoming campaign which means that any potential suitor will have to fork out a considerable fee.
According to The Sun journalist Alan Nixon, Sunderland will not be able to meet Crewe's valuation of the winger this summer which is also understood to be too high for any of the other clubs who have been linked with a swoop.
GIVEMESPORT's Joshua Cole says...
This is unquestionably a blow for the Black Cats as Dale illustrated in the previous campaign that he is more than capable of competing at this level.
As well scoring and creating goals, the winger averaged a respectable WhoScored match rating of 6.76 in League One which was only bettered by six of his Crewe team-mates.
Dale also ranked in the top-five at Gresty Road in terms of successful dribbles per game (0.9) and shots per match (1.5) as he provided a useful outlet for David Artell's side.
With Sunderland seemingly no longer in the running for Dale's signature, Johnson will need to focus on drafting in a number of classy operators this summer as a failure to do so could result in another season of disappointment at the Stadium of Light.
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