Could potential Steve Cotterill appointment help Sunderland land 2016 target ahead of Championship rivals Aston Villa and Derby County?

Bristol City manager Steve Cotterill

Sunderland were linked with a move for Bristol City defender Aden Flint, who is reportedly being eyed Aston Villa and Derby County, last year.

Bristol City manager Steve Cotterill before the matchFormer Bristol City manager Steve Cotterill

Steve Cotterill is in contention to replace David Moyes as Sunderland manager, HITC Sport understands.

Cotterill, who previously assisted Howard Wilkinson at the Stadium of Light, is out of work after a short spell on Harry Redknapp's staff at Birmingham City.

Before that, he was the man who led Bristol City back to the Championship as League One winners two seasons ago, collecting the Football League Trophy en route.

A key member of that side - and other Bristol City ones since - was Aden Flint, whose name featured on Sunderland's list of potential targets a year ago, as reported by us at the time.

Newcastle United's Matt Ritchie clashes with Bristol City's Aden FlintBristol City defender Aden Flint

But could the 27-year-old follow his old boss to Wearside, if Cotterill gets the job?

Do Sunderland still need him?

Three of the Mackems' recognised centre-backs - Jason Denayer, John O'Shea and Joleon Lescott - are either on their way back to a parent club or out of contract, while Lamine Kone could be a target for other clubs, which looks set to create a new vacancy for Flint to fill.

Sunderland's Lamine Kone in action with Hull City's Abel HernandezSunderland defender Lamine Kone [centre]

Would he want to join Sunderland?

Bristol City have struggled at the bottom end of the Championship in each of their two campaigns back at that level and at 27, a new challenge could be at the forefront of Flint's mind. If he thinks Sunderland could compete for promotion then why wouldn't he fancy playing under a manager he knows well at one of England's biggest clubs?

Sunderland's Stadium of LightSunderland's Stadium of Light ground

Any obstacles?

Aston Villa and Derby County are also said to be keen on Flint, along with Premier League West Bromwich Albion - and both Villa and Derby could be deemed more stable options than Sunderland should top flight offers fail to materialise. Reports suggest the Bristol City defender would cost in the region of £5 million, so the Mackems may have to raise funds first.

Could potential Cotterill appointment help Sunderland land Flint, ahead of Aston Villa and Derby County?

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