Sunderland could hand Hartlepool United a timely boost of funds this summer by agreeing to a pre-season friendly against the National League outfit.
The Victoria Park club have supposedly reached out to the north east's 'big three' to host a friendly game in the coming weeks, but so far have only heard back from one of Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Newcastle.
New Black Cats boss Jack Ross played for 'Pools over a decade ago and that link could help facilitate a friendly being organised, despite the acrimonious end to his time at Hartlepool.
A nasty injury and a protracted bid to return home to Scotland marked the end of the former defender's stint south of the border. Ross played 23 games for Hartlepool during the 2004-5 season.
There appeared to be a little friction between 'Pools and Sunderland last season over the loan negotiations for defender Michael Ledger. But with a new regime at the Stadium of Light, perhaps a little making up is in order now that Ross is manager of the region's biggest club in order to help out a smaller neighbour who has been through some troubled times of late.
Hartlepool have hosted Sunderland in the last two summers, as well as in 2014, 2012 and 2011 to make the fixture a regular feature of pre-season in recent years. The trip 20 miles south has become a favourite for Mackems keen to see the Lads in action during the close season.
Last year, Simon Grayson's side beat 'Pools 2-1 with Josh Maja and Jeremain Lens bagging goals for the visitors from Wearside. The previous summer, Victoria Park was the venue for national press coverage as Sam Allardyce watched on in the final days of his Sunderland rein before packing his bags for the England job.
Sunderland usually begin announcing their pre-season preparation plans from around the first couple of weeks in June. The League One campaign kicks off on the weekend of August 4th. Hartlepool will learn their fixtures for the National League towards the end of next month.