AHMED ELMOHAMADY'S two-year stay on Wearside is expected to come to an end this summer, but the Sunderland winger could be forced to leave the Premier League behind.
As Nicklas Bendtner - who has accepted part blame for missing the team coach on Sunday - and Craig Gordon prepare to leave, it has emerged Elmohamady has been lined up by West Ham United.
But West Ham, also interested in Gordon, are the only English club to have expressed an interest at this stage and will only make a move if they overcome Blackpool in the Championship play-off final tomorrow.
Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill is happy for the Egyptian to move on and he is looking for somewhere in the region of £1.5m to boost his own transfer budget.
Elmohamady, whose last appearance was a positive display after being introduced as a substitute against Manchester United last Sunday, is also interesting clubs abroad.
But it is the possibility of a switch to West Ham which is thought to appeal to him the most. Elmohamady still has two years remaining on the contract Steve Bruce handed him in last year after impressing during a season-long loan, but O'Neill is willing to consider offers.
Despite the substitute outing against United, the 24-year-old failed to impress the Northern Irishman and did not make a single start for Sunderland after the change of manager in December.
Sunday's appearance was his ninth from the bench under O'Neill and the Egypt international is known to be frustrated with his lack of first team action since the turn of the year.
He remains one of his country's brightest prospects and when he left ENPPI to join Sunderland he had hoped his career would go on to reach greater heights. The switch, however, has not really worked out for him, despite playing more than 50 times for the Black Cats.
O'Neill is already working on a list of potential arrivals but he accepts the more money he can raise by selling a few players, the stronger his hand will be in the transfer market.
As well as offloading Elmohamady, O'Neill is happy there has already been a substantial reduction in the club's weekly wage bill.
Goalkeeper Gordon, set to become a free agent, and striker Bendtner, whose loan from Arsenal has ended, were two of the highest paid players at the Stadium of Light last season. The departures of both will free up some of the budget available to O'Neill.
Despite finishing the season as Sunderland's leading goalscorer it has never looked as if eight-goal Bendtner would be staying in the North-East. Sunday's events only acted to hammer home the point.
The Denmark international, likely to be a key member of his country's Euro 2012 squad, has admitted he is unlikely to return - while claiming he was not the only one to blame for missing the team coach.
After O'Neill instructed the bus to leave the team hotel without him on Sunday, Bendtner was forced to catch a taxi and he was overlooked for the match-day squad that took on Manchester United.
"Yes, there was some misunderstanding," said Bendtner. "But we talked about it and it is done now.
"A mixed bag is the answer to the question of whose fault it was. But I think I've had an OK stay in Sunderland and I am pleased to leave the club after a positive spell."
The Arsenal striker is now understood to be attracting clubs from the Bundesliga, where Borussia Dortmund have been credited with an interest in him.
He said: "My ambition is to play Champions League and Germany has some great teams. As far as I know, Germany has the second largest fan culture in Europe, so it's definitely interesting."
Gordon, meanwhile, is keen to remain in the Premier League. A move to Celtic has been talked about, but the Scotland international cooled that yesterday.
West Ham are considering options to replace Robert Green, who is interesting Spanish club Malaga, and Gordon is a realistic option for Sam Allardyce.
The former Hearts man said: "There's nothing going on (with Celtic) at the moment. But I am just waiting to see what my options are and take it from there.
"It's a case of waiting to see over the summer. I'm out of contract now so it's about seeing what offers come in and picking the best one from there, really."