According to the Coventry Telegraph, Derby County were interested in signing defender Jordan Willis during the summer after monitoring his situation.
The centre-back’s contract at Coventry expired in the summer.
Several Championship clubs reportedly sought his signature, and Coventry boss Mark Robins told reporters how Willis was targeting a move to the second tier.
Sunderland, however, ended up winning the race for his signature.
Willis moved to the Stadium of Light, signing a two-year deal with the club.
Jordan Willis endures tough start at Sunderland:
Did Derby miss a trick by not bringing him to Pride Park? Well, if his early season form at Sunderland is anything to go by, then it is actually quite the opposite.
Willis has started 12 games for the Black Cats this season. The League One promotion favourites have yet to keep a single clean sheet thus far, conceding 15 goals.
Sunderland’s poor start to the season by their own high standards and ambitions has cost manager Jack Ross his job. The Scot was fired this past week after 15 months in charge.
Willis, meanwhile, has had his ups and downs. The defender has only averaged 0.5 tackles and 0.7 interceptions per game, while his pass percentage rate is at 70.4%. On a positive note, however, the defender’s Whoscored average rating of 6.81 sees him rated in Sunderland’s top five this term.
Derby will need to look at their defensive options over the next 12 months.
Matthew Clarke is only on loan from Brighton and Hove Albion. Curtis Davies, 34, is out of contract next summer and Richard Keogh’s injury will keep him side-lined until late 2020.
Rams boss Phillip Cocu ought to make a new central defender a priority next summer. And one who is preferably young enough to be classed as a long-term solution.
Willis will need to improve his game if he harbours hopes of reaching Championship level. As for Sunderland, the pressure is on to get their next managerial appointment right.