Sam Allardyce is looking to bring in no less than three of the players he worked with at West Ham United, according to the Mirror.
Defensive duo James Collins and Joey O’Brien, who are both still employees of the East London club but have fallen down the pecking order since the appointment of Slaven Bilic as manager.
Cole left Upton Park at the end of last season, and is yet to find a new club despite links with Scottish champions Celtic.
Queens Park Rangers midfielder Sandro is also being considered as the former Hammers boss looks to assemble a squad that can achieve Premier League safety.
The Black Cats lost for the sixth time last season as West Bromwich Albion took the points in Allardyce’s first game in charge.
Next up for the Wearside club is a clash with fierce rivals Newcastle United at the Stadium of Light on Sunday afternoon.