Jon McLaughlin casts doubt over Sunderland future and reveals why he left Tynecastle - could he be a target for Hearts and Hibs?
The former Hearts goalkeeper could be available in the summer
Jon McLaughlin was a fans' favourite during his one-season spell with Hearts.
His reliable performances, commanding presence and ability to make a spectacular save saw him become a key player throughout the 2017/2018 campaign.
The 32-year-old is regarded as one of the club's best goalkeepers across the last decade, and played every minute of the eight-game run where Hearts didn't concede a goal.
McLaughlin's form earned him Scotland recognition at the end of the season and a move to Sunderland, then managed by Hibs boss Jack Ross.
However, despite his importance to the Black Cats he is about to enter the final six months of his contract with a new deal not on the table despite a promise of an offer after the transfer window closed back in August.
“From my side, we have no idea [about the contract] and we have no control over that,” McLaughlin told the Evening News' sister title the Sunderland Echo.
“At the start of the summer it looked very positive. It looked like they really wanted to get something done but it’s gone very quiet very quickly. There was the takeover that fell through, the change of the manager, the form of the team and also myself.
“At the end of the day, all I can do is concentrate on trying to keep my place in the team, put in positive performances, be a worthy member of the team and the squad and try and turn those results."
McLaughlin had found himself on the bench for a handful of games but is back in the starting XI at a club he joined from Hearts with the view of staying long term.
“I was more pleased than anyone than when they came to us in the summer and made the noises about wanting me to stay long term,” he said “It’s a huge club with so much potential.
“I’ve moved around plenty before, for myself and the family, that’s not easy. We made this move because we felt it was somewhere we could potentially stay for the rest of my career, and help ride this wave back up to the very top.
“From my point of view, we’re not looking to jump ship just because everything has not been rosy for a short period."
Hearts or Hibs target?
Hearts are on the lookout for a new goalkeeper with the club linked with Stoke City stopper Adam Davies, who played under Daniel Stendel at Barnsley.
Across the city, there has been plenty of discussion over the goalkeeper position with Ofir Marciano, Chris Maxwell and Adam Bogdan on the books.
McLaughlin was a key player for Ross at Sunderland and one of the first signings pinpointed when he made the move from St Mirren to the Stadium of Light.
Back in August, Ross labelled McLaughlin the best goalkeeper in League One.
“He was one of the first players that I identified that I wanted to bring to the club," he said during his first season at Sunderland. "It was a position that was important we got right.
“I obviously watched him very closely last season, and when you added that to his experience and the fact that he had been successful in this league, he just ticked so many boxes.
“He’s also at a stage of his life and career where he can handle the pressures of playing for this club. He’s pretty unflappable as a character."