By Dylan Childs

13th Jan, 2021 | 10:08am

Exclusive: Sunderland make approach to sign Brighton defender

Sunderland have made an enquiry for Brighton defender Alex Cochrane, Football Insider can exclusively reveal.

The 20-year-old is currently on a season-long loan at Union SG, having joined the Belgian club in October.

A recruitment source has told Football Insider that the Black Cats would like to sign the left-back either on loan or in a permanent deal this month.

Sunderland have been monitoring the defender’s progress this season with a view to taking advantage of his contract situation at Brighton.

Cochrane has entered the final six months of his deal at the Amex Stadium and could leave the club on a free in the summer.

He has made six appearances for his loan club Union SG this season and has started the last five consecutive league games.

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His versatility will appeal to Black Cats manager Lee Johnson, with Cochrane comfortable operating at left-back, centre-half and from the left-hand side of midfield.

The Brighton-born defender has made two senior appearances for his boyhood club and has featured for England at youth level, both for the Under-16s and the Under-20s.

In July, Seagulls boss Graham Potter revealed that he had been “impressed” by both the youngster’s attitude and ability in first-team training.

Cochrane could become Lee Johnson’s second signing at the Stadium of Light after the club confirmed the capture of Carl Winchester from Forest Green Rovers on a two-and-a-half year deal over the weekend.

In other news, two EFL clubs have set their sights on signing a Sunderland midfielder in the January window.