Hearts have hijacked the Sunderland pursuit of Liam Boyce by submitting a £200,000 bid for the Burton Albion striker, Football Insider can reveal.
The English big hitters tabled an offer for the Northern Ireland international earlier in the window and were hopeful it would be enough to seal a deal.
A Sunderland source has told Football Insider their pursuit of Boyce is now up in the air after the Scottish ambush.
Hearts manager Daniel Stendel has held talks over a deal for Boyce and his club’s bid matches what is on offer from Sunderland.
The forward is out of contract in the summer and is set to be sold by Burton by the end of next week.
The English League One high flyers are keen to extend Boyce’s contract but he has showed no intention of doing so.
Phil Parkinson has already moved to bring in Kyle Lafferty on a short-term deal, but wants more forward power as he looks to take the Black Cats back to the Championship.
Burton manager Nigel Clough has admitted his side are vulnerable to losing a player key to them reaching second in the division.
Boyce made his name with Scottish side Ross County prior to crossing the border to play in the Championship and League One, and finished last season with 14 goals as Burton missed out on a place in the play-offs.
He has been even more effective in this campaign, scoring 14 goals from 33 appearances in all competitions.
In other Sunderland news, it can be REVEALED that the club have been working on Scottish double swoop.