The Republic of Ireland international has been strongly linked with a move to St. James’ Park since the summer after falling down the pecking order at Goodison Park, seeing the likes of Idrissa Gueye and Gareth Barry preferred to him under Ronald Koeman.
Now, the arrival of Morgan Schneiderlin may have pushed him further down.
Despite seeing his progress stall somewhat recently, there’s little doubt the 26-year-old would be a huge coup in Championship and a player capable of performing in the Premier League should he join and the Magpies win promotion.
Still, Toffees chief Koeman is believed to be ready to offer the former Wigan Atletic man to the Black Cats as part of a £10m deal to sign defender Lamine Kone. The Ivorian was signed by Sam Allardyce in January last year and helped those on Wearside stay up at the Toon’s expense, though now could be on his way to Merseyside.